By Tommy Pease
If you have never visited the East Liverpool Potter Fieldhouse for a High School basketball game, I recommend you come check it out. The Potter Fieldhouse is the Taj Mahal of High School gymnasiums with new, modern lighting and the classic blue cushioned seats there’s not a better venue in the state to enjoy high school basketball.
On Tuesday, February 18th, the 9 Male and 3 Female student-athletes to reach a career 1,000 points scored were honored with the unveiling of the 1,000 Point Club Banner that will now grace the walls of the Potter Fieldhouse. Out of the 12 players currently in this club, the first-ever member to join was 1961 Graduate Ken Cunningham. If you’re a Potter Basketball junkie like me and many others in our small town, it happens all too often at a community event or cookout with friends, the “whos the all-time best Potter hoops player” conversation comes to the table. For all the old-timers who have had the privilege to watch all of these student-athletes take to the court, 59 years later the 1961 grad and his 1,102 career points is still the fan favorite and rightfully so. He is the only Potter in school history to receive All-Ohio Player of the Year honors.
Cunningham remained the only 1,000 point club member with 1,102 points scored until 28 years later the first Lady Potter to net a 1,000 career points was crowned. A 1989 grad Wendy Baker not only joined the club but she owned it netting a career 1,153 points.
It took 31 years until 1992 grad Mike McFarlane burst on the scene with his sharpshooting mentality and joined Cunnigham becoming the second male club member. McFarlane had swagger before swagger was a thing. As a 10-year-old boy, I can remember McFarlane lighting up the scoreboard at a jam-packed Potter Fieldhouse.. From that point on, I was hooked on Potter hoops. Mcfarlane led his 1992 team to the Elite 8 and would end his career with 1,126 points.
The Baker overall record and Mcfarlane boys record stayed atop the club until 1997 when the future University of Pittsburgh recruit Stephen Flores tallied a career total of 1,191 points. Flores size and finesse stole the hearts of Potter Fans during his years of scoring dominance. At 6 ft 7in tall he graced the wing and led the Potters to a dominant 57-9 record during his run atop the mountain. During the Flores era the Potters were always at the top of the AP Rankings, reaching as high as 4th in his time as a Potter. His sophomore season team (1995) was one of the greatest to ever take the court for the Potters. They finished the season 20-2 but ended in heartbreak fashion with a sectional championship loss to the eventual undefeated Division 1 state champion Zanesville Blue Devils. Flores was one of 9 players in school history to be named 2nd team All-State.
It took another 6 years to welcome the next member to the club when future Division 1 college recruit Josh Reed came on the scene. A 2003 grad Reed not only reached 1,000 points but blew away the scoring record with an astounding 1,305 career points. Reed is quite possibly the most dominant scoring threat to ever wear the Blue & White. Reed is another one of the 9 players in school history to receive 2nd team All-State honors. He led his teams to a combined 50-20 record that ended in 2003 with a Regional runner-up performance. The Potters have not been back to the regional finals since Reeds senior year.
The current all-time scoring leader in school history with 1,384 points was next to join the club. Class of 2005 graduate Brian Kreefer a Division I Cornell recruit broke Reeds scoring record and it held strong now for 15 years. Kreefer who is one of 7 players in school history to be named first-team All-State. Kreefer could knock it down from anywhere on the court averaging over 30 points a game in his 2005 season. Kreefer led him to a 20-3 record and a sectional championship during his senior year.
As Kreefer stood atop the mountain 4 others have reached the 1,000 point milestone but none were able to break the total that Kreefer put on the board. When the Kreefer era ended it took another 7 years before 2012 graduate Marky Thompkins ended his career with 1247 points. He was a 2 sport star with pure athleticism that separated him from the pack. In his senior season, Thompkins led the potters to a 19-4 season that ended in a district finals loss against eventual final four team St. Clairsville. Thompkins is a two-time All-State selection and currently sits 5th on the all-time list.
After Thompkins in 2012, the next to join the club was 2015 graduate Nikayla Edgell. In her senior season, she not only joined the club but almost owned it. Edgell, a scoring machine for the Lady Potter’s took a run at Kreefers 1,384 point record but fell short ending her career with 1,380 points. Her spot on top the Lady Potter record books is one that could stand for a very long time.
The next pure scorer to own the stat sheet for the boys was 2016 graduate Issac Davidson. Davidson had unlimited range and could score from all over the court. In the 2015 Potter Holiday Classic, Davidson had the fieldhouse off their seats and on their feet as he dialed in for 46 points leading the Potters to the tournament championship. Davidson with quite possibly the most accurate stroke in school history finds himself in the state record books for sinking a remarkable 54 consecutive free throws. Davidsons 1178 points land him on 7th on the all-time scoring list.
The class of 2019 held the 10th club member in boys hoop star Gabe Roach. Always smiling and jumping out of the gym, Roach was one of the best open court scorers in school history. A two-time All-State selection Roach ended his career leading the Potters to a District finals appearance. His 1,163 points land him 8th on the all-time list.
Fast forward to the present day and 2020 has been a very special year for East Liverpool High School and Potter Basketball. The class of 2020 has gifted us the first-ever Classmates to reach 1,000 career points. The Lady Potter 1,000 point club welcomed its 3rd member as 2 sport star Emma Ludwig joined the club ending her career with 1,062 points. Ludwig not only a dominant scorer, she also accumulated over 600 career rebounds and 300 career blocks. Those attributes helped lead the Lady Potters to their first playoff win in 11 years.
On the other side of this 2020 class is a 4-year starter and three-point machine Tresean Jackson. As a babyface freshman, Jackson stole the hearts of Potter fans with his charisma, quick hands, and limitless range. It was obvious early in his career that he could knock down the outside shot and he could do it in abundance. During his junior year, he broke the all-time three-pointers made record held by fellow club member Josh Reed (152). This record-breaking run is still going strong as “Trigger” Tresean Jackson sits at 211 made career three-pointers. As Jackson entered his final season the once babyface freshman was now a quicker more versatile version of himself. As a result, Jackson is making another run at history. Earlier this year Jackson became the 11th member of the 1,000 point club and quickly started to make his run to the top of the mountain. He currently sits 3rd on the all-time scoring list with 1339 career points. Only Edgell (1380) and Kreefer (1384) stand in his way. If Jackson can lead the Potters back to the district finals again this year we could witness the crowning of a new scoring king.
East Liverpool will host Indian Valley in the sectional final this Saturday 2/29 at 7 pm.