December 28,1967, was a date that a lot fans in northwest Ohio had circled on their calendars for a long time. Findlay College and Kenyon College were about to collide in the Holiday Tournament championship game and fireworks were expected. The schools were considered two of best small college teams in the Midwest and both were bringing offensive firepower along with them. They did not disappoint.
Both the Oilers and Lords came into the contest averaging more than 100 points a game on the season. Findlay was off to an undefeated start and returned five starters from a squad that advanced to the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City the previous year. Kenyon was 6 and 1 and in the midst of what was to be the most successful team in school history.
That night, when the ball was tossed at center circle, seven of the players starting would become career thousand point scorers for their alma maters. The spotlight was shinning directly on the guard duos from both squads.
For Findlay College it was the Carder twins, Jim and Jerry, who by their senior year had achieved national recognition. By the end of their illustrious career at Findlay, they would rank number one and two in career scoring, positions they would hold for more than 20 years. The Carders played the game at full throttle and were a perfect fit for the pressing and running style of play their Hall of Fame coach, Jim Houdeshell, cherished.
For Kenyon, it was John Rinka and John Dunlop, two guards whose names are still plastered over every scoring record in Lord basketball history. Rinka and Dunlop had not yet achieved the notoriety earned by the Carder twins. But that was about to change.
Jim Carder still remembers the game vividly. “It’s a game I will never forget,” recalls Carder. “We played our home games at Findlay High School, and it was standing room only.” His identical twin, Jerry, recalls he had an early premonition of what was coming. “I was sitting in the stands when the Kenyon team walked into the gym. John Rinka dropped his duffle bag on the floor and grabbed a basketball off the rack and took a shot and made it. He then shot every ball on the top row of the rack and made each one, while he was standing out of bounds. I walked to the locker room and told my brother Jim we were going to have our hands full.”
Coach Houdeshell described the game as a “shoot out.” Houdeshell remembers, “they fired, then we fired, and in the end they just out fired us.” Kenyon took an early lead and advanced the spread throughout the game. There were several technical fouls called in the contest and one right before halftime swung the momentum to Kenyon. In the end it was the free throw line that provided the margin of difference for Kenyon in a 126 to 103 victory. The Lords made an incredible 34 of 38 free throws in the contest.
Rinka and his running mate, John Dunlop, combined to score 89 points between them, Dunlop with 46 points and Rinka with 43. That’s 89 points from the guard position alone.
The Oilers struggled with the pace of the game but still managed to score three points over their offensive average. The Carders combined to score 58 points, Jerry with 34 and Jim, who sat the bench much of the night in foul trouble, totaling 24.
When you add it up, and you will need a calculator to do it, the starting guards for both teams combined to score a mind boggling 147 points between them. This was before the 3-point line. “All of Rinka’s shots came from behind what would be the three point line today,” remembers Jim Carder.
John Rinka, whose career would become legendary, was just a sophomore at the time. The Milwaukee native admits, “I was actually naïve coming into the game but I do remember there was a great buzz in the gym,” As for matching up with the Carder twins, Rinka remembers, “I really didn’t understand until later how good they were, and how anxious people were to see the match-up. “I have a lot of respect for those two guys.”
Rinka proceeded to become one of the most decorated basketball players in Ohio college history. His 41.0 points per game average in 1969-70 and his career points total of 3,251 rank as the eighth highest in NCAA history. He led the nation his senior year in field goal attempts and free throw attempts. Not bad when you consider that the remarkable “Pistol” Pete Maravich was ranked just behind him. He was in the first class of inductees into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, along with Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek and Bobby Knight.
Rinka was invited to try out for the 1968 Olympic basketball team and was also drafted by both the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and the Utah Stars of the ABA. He chose to try out with the Stars because, “they had a 3-point line and that was my game.” He made it to the last cut.
Looking back at the game that brought Findlay and Kenyon together, Jerry Carder is still amazed at the offensive fire power displayed. “229 points in 40 minutes of basketball, before the 3-point line!” he exclaimed. “Will we ever see anything like that again?”
Probably not, but there is always hope.