RICHMOND DALE — It’s always been said that Babe Ruth was a larger than life figure.
One of the things that’s synonymous with Ruth and his legendary status was his “called shot” home run, when the giant of a man pointed his outstretched arm toward centerfield and signaled he’d hit a home run during a game — and then it happened.
New Boston senior Kyle Sexton called his shot over a year ago, and is now reaping the benefits of said call and the work required to reach — and win — Friday’s Division IV regional championship.
In a message to The Portsmouth Daily Times sports staff following last year’s loss to Leesburg Fairfield in the district semis, Sexton said the Tigers would be back and better than ever.
More specifically, in a message on March 5, 2020, Sexton said the Tigers would be heading to Columbus to play in the program’s first state tournament since 1960.
Little did Sexton or anyone know that COVID-19, cancellations/postponements of every mainstay American event from Los Angeles to New York, and an unprecedented high school sports season would take place in between then and their 44-39 win over Berlin Hiland in a Division IV regional final played at Southeastern High School.
The nets belonged to the Tigers — and the night belonged to Sexton — as the big man reaped the reward’s of delivering promises only he, his teammates, and coaches could make happen.
Although it’s not being played at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus, the Tigers and their rabid fan base will be heading to the D4 state semis at the University of Dayton — needing just two more wins for the program’s first-ever state title.
“Teams getting quarantined, games get moved. Not playing for two weeks and then playing four games in a week. Last year, I never wanted to feel that loss of defeat,” Sexton said, reflecting on the entirety of the ‘20-21 season. “We were the best team in the region last year and we should’ve won it, but we did this year. Now it’s time to get a state title.”
A third-quarter layup by the six-foot five-inch forward gave the Tigers a 35-33 lead — and helped set an all-time mark in the Glenwood High School history books.
Needing exactly 15 points to break 1991 graduate Todd Loper’s all-time mark of 1,706 career points, Sexton finished the night square on 15 — as he became the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,707 points scored.
And, he still has at least one more game to play.
“I knew what it was coming into my freshman year. I had to sit out six games, Coach (Adam) Cox said then he has the potential to do it. He told me he wanted me to do it, lead us and lead us to wins,” Sexton said, of breaking the mark. “It’s crazy — I never thought I’d be able to get it. It’s a great feeling to get it and be a regional champ all in one night.”
Lesson to be learned: if you set goals and put enough work to achieve them, you’re bound to get something out of it.
On Friday for Sexton and the Tigers, that something was a piece of the regional championship net, a trophy, a place atop the school’s all-time scoring list, and a one-way trip from Scioto County to Dayton.