Greene County News
XENIA — December 17th will be a throwback to the good ol’ days at Benner Field House.
Some people will even remember it being referred to as the “Snake Pit.” Xenia boys and girls high school basketball programs will play several Greater Western Ohio Conference American South league games versus West Carrollton at their former basketball court, the historic Benner Field House.
Benner Field House opened in 1939 and was built on a dumping ground for junk. From 1939-1977, Benner was the home court for the Buccaneers.
The varsity accumulated an impressive 275 wins and only 87 defeats during that time. It also saw Xenia’s only state championship basketball team play its games there in 1941-42. The first game was won by Xenia, 28-19, over Wilmington, and the coach of that Xenia team was Tom Blackburn.
The final home game on Feb. 22, 1977 was won 102-85 over Kettering Fairmont East. In that game, Mark Scott made the last basket with Lorrie Alexander making the last point on a free throw. The 1977 Xenia team was coached by current boys’ coach Kent Anderson’s father, Phil Anderson.
Xenia Athletic Director Nathan Kopp called Benner Field House a “hidden gem, this facility was as good as there was when it was first built.”
Kopp said that, if this event is successful, Xenia High School hopes to make it an annual event known as the “Benner Field House Classic.”
Anderson said he looks forward to coaching a varsity game where so much basketball history had been made.
“To play a varsity game in that building with the history of all the great players who played there is a real treat,” Anderson said. “Our state championship team played there in 1942, our great teams around 1959-62 played there, Ohio State legend Jerry Lucas played there (for Middletown), and now our current players get to say they played there as well.
“I grew up watching Steve Bayless jump out of the gym in the early 1970s, Brad Montgomery shooting baseline jumpers, Gary Shaw lighting it up from about 25 feet, and then Ray Greene, Dave McGuire, and Eric Salter as a sophomore in 76-77 in the last year it was used full time. What a great era of Xenia Boys Basketball.”
Tickets will be $5 at the door and are good all day. The first 400 people at the game will receive a free “Benner Field House Classic” T-shirt.