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The Brothers Schloemer: 9th Region Royalty

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Bert Schloemer had always been more of a bowler, himself. You could oftentimes find him competing in the mixed couples league or the social league at Bowlounge Lanes in Latonia. Bert and his wife Juanita owned a delicatessen on Taylor Mill Road in Taylor Mill where they raised their family in a house adjacent to the delicatessen. They were members at St. Anthony Church where their children attended elementary at the parish school.

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Following his graduation from the 8th grade, son George headed off to Covington Catholic. He had never played basketball before, but his lanky 6’4” frame caught the eye of head basketball coach Mote Hils and his assistant Roger Brockman, the head freshman coach. Coach Hils had taken over the Cov Cath basketball team after the 1963 season and had been working on improving their record with each passing year. George went out for the team and started on the freshman squad, which finished in 3rd place in the Northern Kentucky Freshman Regional Tournament that year.

Although officially listed on the reserve squad the following year, Schloemer started seeing varsity playing time as a sophomore, even leading the Colonels in scoring with 14 points in their district tournament game against Holy Cross that year. Hils moved him to a starting position on the varsity team at the beginning of his junior year, playing center for the Colonels. Despite spending most of his time posted up beneath the basket looking for rebounds, George led the team in scoring in more than 10 of their games his junior year, averaging in double-digits for the season. The season ended disappointingly, though, when Cov Cath, ranked 6th in the state, failed to make the 9th Region Tournament after an 83-69 loss to Holy Cross in the 34th District Semifinals on the Colonels’ home court. Holy Cross was exacting a little revenge for Cov Cath beating them 62-59 in the finals of the holiday invitational tournament they hosted earlier that season at their own home court in Latonia.

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In the fall of 1966, the Colonels were ranked #1 in the region, and George Schloemer was listed as one of the Louisville Courier-Journal’s pre-season top 24 players in the state. Cov Cath quickly climbed to a spot as one of the top 10 teams in the state. After winning the Ashland Invitational Tournament (George was named to the All-Tournament team), the Colonels would compete for the first time in the Louisville Invitational Tournament, with an early exit in the first round. George was once again pacing the Colonels on the scoreboard during the regular season, averaging 14.5 points per game, and the team headed into tournament time with an average margin of victory at nearly 20 points during the regular season. Cov Cath cruised to victory in the district tournament and won the regional tournament in three dominating games over Highlands, New Cath, and Holmes.

It was Covington Catholic’s first trip to the Kentucky Sweet 16. The Colonels faced Paducah-Tilghman in the first round, and handled them with a 76-49 win. Schloemer had over a third of the team’s points in the game, going 13-19 on FGs and scoring 28 points, along with 12 rebounds. In fact, his 17 points at the game’s half was equal at that point to Paducah’s team total. The tournament quarterfinals brought on Monticello, and the Colonels again won easily, 66-44 with Schloemer leading the team with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Cov Cath faced Central in the semifinals. The Yellowjackets were looking to avenge a loss earlier in the season when the #4 ranked Colonels had knocked them out of their #2 spot in the Litkenhous Ratings, but the Colonels rolled again with a 67-55 win, and George once again led the team with 21 points. That brought on the Sweet 16 Finals, and the 37-1 Earlington Yellowjackets. Just prior to the game, Earlington’s coach Bob Fox told the newspaper reporters that their plan was clear – “We have to stop their big boy.” And the Yellowjackets did just that, holding Schloemer scoreless in the first half.

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The game came down to the final seconds when Cov Cath scored to go up 53-52 with 6 seconds remaining. The team backpedaled down the court awaiting Earlington’s inbounds pass, a long one-handed throw to Justin Sharp. Sharp dribbled quickly and threw up a shot from about 40 feet out. Randy Noll and George Schloemer were lined up beneath the basket for Cov Cath, but the long shot banked hard off the backboard, over Schloemer’s shoulder, and into the chest of Earlington’s Tyrone Hopson. Hopson quickly slipped between Noll and Schloemer and popped in an easy 3-foot jumper just before the buzzer sounded the Yellowjackets’ 54-53 victory over the Colonels. George was quoted in the Courier-Journal after the game saying, “It was my fault. I should have had that rebound.”

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Despite their loss, Schloemer received more votes than any other player on the 1967 Sweet 16’s All-Tournament Team. He was a member of the 1967 Courier-Journal All-State Team along with Jim McDaniels (Allen Co), Jim Rose (Hazard), Henry Bacon (Male), Ralph Mayes (Central City), Bobby Jones (Frankfort), Clarence Glover (Caverna), Felix Thruston (Owensboro), Jerome Perry (Manual), Justin Sharp (Earlington), and Dwaine Boucher (Franklin County). He was also named to the East team in 1967 edition of Kentucky’s annual East-West All-Star Game. In 64 total games for the Cov Cath basketball team, Schloemer scored a career 902 points, for an average 14.1 points per game and had a career free throw average of 69.5%. He has since been named to the Covington Catholic Hall Of Fame along with former teammates Mick Burke, Mike Dacey, Joe Fritz, Dick Berger, Dale Overmann, Randy Noll, and Jim Cooper. In 2006, the Cincinnati Enquirer ranked George at #42 on their list of “Region’s Best In High School Basketball,” an all-time list of top prep basketball players throughout all of Greater Cincinnati.

George was heavily recruited by Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky, but opted to play for Don Donoher at the University of Dayton after the Flyers finished as the runner-up to UCLA in the 1967 NCAA Tournament. The Flyers had first-round exits from the NCAA Tournament in his freshman and sophomore years, as well as a first-round exit from the National Invitational Tournament in his junior year. They did not make any post-season tournaments in his final year at Dayton.

About the time that George was starting at UD, younger brothers Mark and Doug were starting to make some noise on the Northern Kentucky grade school basketball scene, and after a brief amount of pleading with their parents, father Bert along with a swarm of neighborhood boys would dig out a basketball court next door to their home, adjacent to Bert’s S&S Market on Taylor Mill Road. It was about half the size of a regulation court, but that was where Mark and Doug would spend their hours practicing in preparation for their own high school careers in the 9th Region.

In the fall of 1971, Mark followed in older brother George’s footsteps, enrolling at Covington Catholic and arriving in the first following legendary Coach Mote Hils’ departure to start the men’s basketball program at Northern Kentucky State College. In his freshman year, Mark was one of the keys to the Colonels’ 1972 win in the Northern Kentucky Freshman Regional Tournament – one of more than 25 Covington Catholic titles in that tourney. Mark clocked in slightly shorter than George at 6’3” and played forward in his junior and senior years for head coach Dick Maile (a former Covington Catholic star himself, and a two-time All-SEC Conference Team member at LSU).

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Mark was one of the top scorers on both the 1974 and 1975 Colonels Basketball teams, often topping 20 points per game while still competing for the top scoring spot on the team alongside teammates Dale Ratterman, Jimmy Berger and Ken Mueller. Despite Cov Cath’s 4th place finish in the 1974 Ashland Invitational tournament, he was named to the All-Tournament team. The Colonels soundly beat Boone County in the first round of the Boone County Invitational Tournament that year, but would suffer a disappointing 1-point loss to the Rebels in the opening round of the 9th Region Tournament.

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As Mark was finishing up is junior year at Covington Catholic in 1974, younger brother Doug was finishing up his junior high career at Holmes, where he had opted to play instead of Covington Catholic. Doug had already been turning coaches’ heads in the area since starting on Mark’s 6th grade basketball team as a 2nd grader. In 1975, Doug’s freshman year at Holmes he had his official coming out for the Bulldogs, finishing the 1975 season at #11 for individual scoring in the 9th Region (419), #2 for field goal percentage (57.3%), and #12 for free throw percentage (70.9%). Older brother Mark would top Doug for rebounds with 223 rebs to Doug’s 172. Mark also made the top 20 list in the region for field goal percentage, finishing at #18 with 48.5%.

The big game of the year in 1975 came on January 7th, when Holmes faced Covington Catholic. Older brother Mark was starting for the Colonels as a senior, and younger brother Doug was a starting freshman for the Bulldogs. The brothers Schloemer both played forward for their respective teams. In the game, the elder Schloemer was outscored 21-16 by the younger, but the Colonels came away with an 88-87 victory on account of free throw shooting by the team – Cov Cath converted on 18 FTs to Holmes’ 17.

Mark Schloemer’s high school career would end in the finals of the 1975 9th Region Tournament when Newport Catholic defeated Covington Catholic with a last-second basket to win 60-59. After graduation, Mark continued his basketball career at Thomas More College.

Doug still had three more years of high school ball to play. As a sophomore, the Bulldogs would overcome the hump, making their first appearance in the Kentucky Sweet 16 since 1951. Holmes drew Henry Clay as their first round opponent in the ’76 state tournament. The Blue Devils had beaten them already in January of that season, and Henry Clay would once again prove too much for Holmes, beating them 74-65 despite the Bulldogs’ one point lead going into the 4th quarter of the game. Doug was named to the All-District and then the All-Region Team by the coaches in the 9th that year, and he came in second in voting for the 9th Region Most Valuable Player award. He was also named second team All-State.

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Doug’s junior year made for the second of three straight appearances in the Kentucky Sweet 16 for Holmes. Schloemer saw to that personally in the Region Finals. Holmes and Newport had been switching back and forth all season long between the first and second place spots in Northern Kentucky polls. The two teams faced off in the 9th Region finals, and after the Bulldogs called a timeout with 10 seconds on the clock and the Wildcats leading by one, the ball was put into Doug’s hands for a final shot. Schloemer’s jumper won the game 77-66. Holmes drew Murray as their first round opponent in the ’77 state tournament, but despite Doug’s team-leading 26 points and 11 rebounds, the Bulldogs were once again sent home after the first round with a 100-93 loss. Doug was once again named to the All-District and All-Region Teams, and he was also voted to the 1st team of the coaches’ All-State team, as well as 2nd team on both the Herald-Leader’s and Courier-Journal’s All-State Teams. During his junior year, Schloemer also set Holmes’ school career scoring record at 1738, beating the previous record of 1631 set in 1958 by Tom Herron.

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His senior year, 1978, Doug was hot, boasting a 34 point game in the opening round of the 31st Louisville Invitational Tournament. Holmes’ loss to Shelby County in the LIT semifinals was the only loss of their 31-1 regular season, and Doug was on the hunt for the Kentucky Mr. Basketball title. Holmes trounced Ashland 86-60 in the first round, and beat Bowling Green 83-71 in the quarterfinals (Schloemer led the team with 24 points against Bowling Green). In the semis they beat Christian County 75-59, with Doug and teammate John Wimzie scoring 21 points each.

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The finals brought on Shelby County, also in their third of three straight appearances in the Kentucky Sweet 16. It would be a rematch, and a chance for Holmes to get revenge for their sole loss of the season to Shelby County in the LIT. Despite the fact that Shelby County was ranked #1 in the state in pre-season polls, and had spent most of the season as the state’s top-ranked team, Holmes led the game 16-13 after the first quarter and 28-27 at the half. Then the Rockets came back out of halftime with a 22-point third quarter to go up 49-46, but the Bulldogs fought back to a lead in the fourth quarter, with Sheby County’s Charles Hurt hitting a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied up at 64.

About 25-seconds into the overtime period, Schloemer drove in and tossed in a layup. Charles Hurt went up to challenge the shot and the ball came flying back out of the basket as the net popped up out of the rim, but goal-tending was not called as Shelby County took control of the ball. Freedom Hall echoed with boos and yelling after the no-call. Overtime was a defensive fight, and despite Holmes’ confidence being shaken by the call (or lack thereof), Schloemer still scored the first two points of the period on a pair of foul shots. Shelby County answered with a bucket by Don Murphy. With 34 seconds left in overtime, Doug was called for a foul while contesting Shelby County’s Norris Beckley for a rebound, and Beckley calmly sank both of his free throws. The Rockets successfully warded off any further opportunity for Holmes to score, and Shelby County took home the 1978 title with a 68-66 win in OT. Charles Hurt would reportedly admit after the game that he had goal-tended on Schloemer's shot at the beginning of overtime.

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Doug was the point leader in the title game with 25 points, set the career scoring record at Holmes with 2618 points, and would go on to win the 1978 Mr. Basketball Award after finishing the season with an average of 24.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. For a third straight year he was named All-District and All-Region, All-State. His fellow All-Staters were Jerry Eaves (Ballard), Vince Taylor (Tates Creek), Charles Hurt (Shelby County), Steve Barker (Apollo), Dirk Minniefield (Lafayette), Norris Beckley (Shelby County), Junie Redden (Frankfort), Michael Scearce (Henry Clay), and Jeff Jones (Apollo).

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Doug went on to attend the University of Cincinnati where he would play guard and forward for coach Ed Badger from 1978-1982 and would finish with 276 points in 84 games played. His most notable claim to fame from his time at UC was providing the winning shot in the longest game in NCAA Division I history, ending the Bearcats game against the Bradley Braves in the 7th overtime with a 15-foot jumper, bringing a final score of 75-73. Since his college graduation, Doug has been named to the NKAC Hall Of Fame, LaRosa’s Sports Hall Of Fame, Kentucky Basketball Hall Of Fame, and the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall Of Fame. In 2006, the Cincinnati Enquirer ranked him at #20 on their list of “Region’s Best In High School Basketball,” an all-time list of top prep basketball players throughout all of Greater Cincinnati.

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In March of 2013, George, Mark and Doug were all inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of fame together.

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The Schloemer’s are great people.  Doug played youth basketball for my dad and he could fill it up.  I never knew George, but Mark is a great guy as well.  Certainly miss the days of the Newport Boys Club.  Best basketball in the area was played there back in the day.

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Great post.  A lot of people mistakenly believe the goal-tending no-call occurred at the end of the game.  

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Outstanding article, thank you, what a nice family, got to know Doug and Mark, not sure I missed many of Dougs games. Coach Flynn still has that no call picture in a frame that the Ky post gave him. 

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What a great post.  

I spoke last week with Coach Creamer from that Shelby County team and he told me that he received 15 or 20 letters enclosing the goaltending photo from folks in Covington.  He didn't say he had it framed though.  In any event, he probably deserved an officiating break at the State Tournament.  His 1973 team lost in the quarterfinals to Hickman County on a foul call as time expired in a tie game, where the Hickman County player admitted he was never touched.  And in 1976, many neutral observers think the clock continued to run for several seconds after a foul call at the end of a 53-52 Edmonson County win over Shelby in the semis.  Coach Creamer is quick to admit that those calls wouldn't have necessarily made the difference in the outcome but the same can be said about the impact of the goaltending non-call in the early part of OT in the 1978 championship game.

One other note:  Doug Schloemer got another tough break at his induction ceremony into the KHS Basketball Hall of Fame.  Inductees don't give speeches but the Hall plays a tribute video for each individual.  Schloemer was the last inductee to be introduced that year, and a technical malfunction meant that his tribute video didn't run, the only time that has happened since the first class was inducted in 2012.  It was an unfortunate mishap that he handled very graciously.  Also in his induction class, posthumously -- Charles Hurt.

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