Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium
Beginning with the first basketball team in 1919 until 1952, St. John’s basketball was played in the old auditorium on the second floor of the current grade school. When that gym proved too small to hold the growing crowds the Blue Jays moved their home games to the newly built Jefferson Middle School in 1952.
Ground was broken on April 1, 1956 for St. John’s new gymnasium. The new gym was not completed until the spring of 1957. One of the first events held in the gym was the Senior Class Play Showboat on May 3, 5 and 6.
The first basketball game in the new gymnasium was held on December 10, 1957 as the Blue Jays hosted Sidney. The ‘Jays were victorious 53-45 and Arnie Fischer scored on a layup for the first varsity points in the new gym. Tickets for that game sold for 75 cents for adults and 50 cents for students. For an extra 25 cents adults could upgrade their tickets to reserved seats. Season tickets for nine home games were $6 for adults and $5 for students. Season tickets did not include two special home games against Cincinnati Elder and Newport Catholic, KY.
In the past 50 seasons St. John’s has played more than 780 boys and girls varsity basketball games in The Vatican. Since that first game in 1957 through the 2006 season, the Blue Jay boys have played 484 home games, compiling a record of 377-107, for a 78% winning percentage. From 1975-1985 the boys compiled a home record of 109-9, a winning percentage of 92%.
Girls basketball was started at St. John’s in 1974 but for the first two years the Blue Jay girls played their home games at the Annex. The girls first season in The Vatican was 1976. From 1976 through 2007 there were 310 girls varsity basketball games held in The Vatican. In those games the girls hold a record of 226-84, a 73% winning percentage. From 1977 through 1987 the girls had a home record of 100-7, an astounding 93% winning percentage. The girls team has currently won 18 consecutive home games.
The Vatican is also home to the St. John’s volleyball and wrestling teams. Wrestling was started at St. John’s in 1969 under Coach Samuel Brewer. Volleyball began in the fall of 1973 under Coach Jan Stover. Gymnastics teams also held meets in the gym for many years. The gym is also home to St. John’s senior class plays. Fifty class plays, including 47 DIFFERENT plays, have been held in the gym beginning with Showboat in May of 1957. (Remember the round stage in the ‘70’s?)
Include Masses during the church renovation, graduations school festivals, concerts, visiting theater productions, proms, homecomings, alumni dances, assemblies, etc… well in excess of one million persons have enjoyed a visit to The Vatican.
Basketball Records at The Vatican since the 1958 season
Most points scored by DSJ team
Boys: 115 vs. Mendon Union, 115-32, 1990
vs. Toledo Start, 115-71, 1988
Girls: 113 vs. Wapakoneta, 113-24, 1984
Most points scored by opposing team
Boys: 101, 1969, Bath 101 DSJ 77
Girls: 88, 1989, Kalida 88 DSJ 42
Fewest Points scored by a DSJ team
Boys: 32, 1966, loss to Toledo St. Francis, 32-40
Girls: 19, 1989, loss to Continental, 19-60
Fewest points by opposing team
Boys: 21, 1983, DSJ 94 Mendon Union 21
Girls: 11, 1978, DSJ 85 Wapakoneta 11
**In 1970 the Blue Jays boys team scored 100 points six times including five of their nine regular season home games. Their overall offensive average was 84.9 and at home it was an incredible 94 points per game.
Highest scoring game, both teams:
Boys: 1964 DSJ 109 Dayton Dunbar 89
1963 DSJ 105 Dayton Dunbar 91
Girls: 1985 DSJ 89 Lima Bath 79
Most points scored by a DSJ player:
Boys: 52, Steve Jettinghoff, 1989 DSJ 100 Dayton Jefferson 87
Girls: 36, Julie Metzner, 1985 DSJ 89 Lima Bath 79
Most consecutive home wins
Boys: 29 1975-77
Girls: 43 1980-84
Many, many great players have hit the hardwood at DSJ over the past 50 seasons. Former coach Bob Arnzen compiled a short list of some of those great players. Do you remember them??
Mike Giomi Newark HS Indiana University
Granville Waiters Columbus East Ohio State
Doug Etzler Crestview Ohio State - Captain
Jamar Butler Shawnee Ohio State
Rick Snider Shawnee Purdue
Jeff Miller Shawnee Ohio State
Joe Fisher LCC Dayton
(scored 53 points vs. DSJ in 1971 but DSJ won 82-80)
Jim Andrews Bath Kentucky
Steve Penhorwood Bath Kentucky-Xavier
Cornelius Cash Dayton Dunbar Bowling Green
Ed Ratliff Columbus East
Bo Lamar Columbus East Southwest Louisiana State
Nick Conner Columbus East
Kirk Lehman Defiance Ohio University
Jay Lehman Defiance Toledo
Tony Yates Lockland Wayne Cincinnati (player and coach)
The Vatican has also hosted some great battles over the years. We’ve asked our current and former coaches for their most memorable games. Undoubtedly there are many more than could be listed here but these are some of the best.
Fran Voll, Girls coach 1976-1985
I think you are correct that 1976 was the first year we played in the gym. Many great memories for me and every girl I had on my teams were special. Remember our games with Bath and Gretchen Pritchard.
Special memory comes when we beat Bath on a free throw by Marsha Wagner
and we went on to win the state in 1980. What can you say about the era when we went 74-1 with the likes of Jeanne Arnzen, Sue Youngpeter, Corky Grothouse, Deb Elwer and many more. Two State Championships in 3 years followed by the one in 1980. Played against some really good players including Amy Pritchard etc. Another gal that came after Amy was Jackie Motycka. The first girl I signed to play at BGSU was Jackie and she had a great career.
Jean (Kramer) Weber, Girls Basketball Coach, 1986-1989
1985 DSJ 89 Lima Bath 79 Julie Metzner scored a school record 36 points for the ‘Jays in the win over WBL champ Bath.
Dan J. Grothouse, Girls Basketball Coach, 1990-Present
1999 Lima Bath came to the Vatican ranked #1 in the State in Division 2 and the Blue Jays knocked them off for a big win, DSJ 63 Bath 49.
1997 The Jays scored the first 20 points of the game in route to the upset win over Lima Bath, DSJ 70 Bath 56.
2003 Elyse Grothouse took a pass from Stacey Grothouse with 3 seconds left trailing by 1 and hit a shot to upset the Ottoville Big Green on Senior Night in front of a packed house, DSJ 50 Ottoville 49.
Early 90's: Best performance by an opposing player was Sara Puthoff from Marion Local who was unstoppable on her way to 40 points that night ----but the Blue Jays overcame the performance with a big victory. DSJ 74 Marion Local 63
2000 team that ended the regular season at 20-0. (with the schedule we play that is quite an accomplishment)
2002 Rachel Pohlman's performance of scoring 30 points against Ft Recovery who some people stated had the MAC Player of the Year in Sara Heitkamp (12 points) helped the Blue Jays get a big win over the state ranked Indians, 65-49.
Bob Arnzen, Boys Basketball Coach, 1951-1993
Team Record vs. DSJ Team Record vs. DSJ
Coach remembers some of the great basketball teams/programs who have competed against the Blue Jays over the years both in The Vatican and in tournament games.
Toledo St. Francis 7-8 Dayton Dunbar 14-14
Mansfield St. Peter 4-3 Toledo Central Catholic 25-16
Columbus South 1-1 Ayersville 3-16
Lima Central Catholic 34-43 Lincoln Heights (Lockland Wayne) 6-7
Rossford 0-1 Elyria Catholic 0-1
Columbus Bishop Ready 1-2 Columbus East 3-3
Toledo Start 4-6 Springfield South 1-1
Dayton Roosevelt 2-2 Worthington 0-1
Upper Sandusky 0-2 Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 1-0
Coach Arnzen remembers a memorable game from the 1964 season vs. Newport Catholic, KY, one of the best teams in Kentucky that year. About a minute before halftime all the lights in the gym went out when a transformer outside the gym blew. Volunteer firemen in the crowd went to the fire station and brought back emergency lights so the fans would see while Ohio Power replaced the transformer. Some fans also left to go home and tell their babysitters they would be late. During the delay, players from both teams sat in the hallway coming out from the locker rooms, one team on each side of the hallway. The players talked as they waited and got to know each other pretty well and became friends. When power was restored the game resumed and the ‘Jays won a thriller, 88-86. DSJ finished 1964 with a 20-4 record and averaged 81 points per game.
The following year the ‘Jays went to Kentucky to play Newport Catholic. Newport Catholic was led by their 6’9 center Dave Cowens, future Boston Celtic great and NBA Hall of Famer. Cowens scored 17 points as Newport Catholic won 81-59.
1975 at Dayton Dunbar. We played at Dunbar and they were really good but so were we. It was a really close game all the way and we were 90 miles from home and that makes for a tough night. It was a very physical game and the battle was about even. We were up one with a couple seconds to play and Dave Swick was at the line for a 1 and 1. We called a time out to get ready for the last seconds. We told the players, when the horn sounds run straight for the locker room. We made the first free throw and the Dunbar fans came about 15 feet onto the floor as we were shooting. We missed the second and they missed a desperation shot to end the game. We won by two in a GREAT game. It might be our toughest victory ever!!
1954 vs. Delphos Jefferson. Jefferson beat us in the finals of the Exempted Village tournament. Three teams went to the Districts and we played Jefferson in the District finals. We beat them 50-49 and went on to the state tournament where we lost in the finals.
1983 State Semi-finals vs. Old Washington Buckey Trail. 'Jays win 74-71 in double overtime.
1971 vs. Lima Central Catholic. We "held" LCC's 6'7" center Joe Fisher to 53 points and still won 82-80. Nobody will admit to guarding Joe Fisher. Maybe that's why he scored 53 points, nobody was guarding him.
1982 vs. Newark. Great game and highly publicized. Two Div I recruits going at it in Delphos, Mike Giomi vs. Alan Kortokrax. The papers forgot we had a lot of good players. We won in a close game, 75-69.
Rick Reindel, Boys Basketball Coach, 1994-1995
1994 DSJ 73 Dayton Colonel White 71 Colonel White came into The Vatican 14-2 and ranked #5 in Div I. The ‘Jays trailed by double digits midway through the first quarter but rallied for a huge upset win.
Brett Norris, Boys Basketball Coach, 1996-2005
1999 win over #1 ranked (Div I) Celina, DSJ 50 Celina 46. 2002 win over Marion Local to win the MAC, DSJ 58 Marion Local 55.
2005 win over Minster to win the MAC (turned out to be my last home game), DSJ 66 Minster 59
Doug Etgen, Boys Basketball Coach, 2006-??
1982-remember Mike Giomi and Newark team came in here and Al Kortokrax probably had one of the better nights I remember, DSJ 75 Newark 69.
1982-OG at home, you remember how bitter that was. We students were sitting up in the corner on the east side, and some OG guys come up and sit by us, and before we knew it, released some birds (sparrows?) in our gym. Craziness. OG 73 DSJ 58
1983 game here against St. Henry, there were so many people, me and some friends had to sit on steps of section A bucket seats in the aisle, DSJ 63 St. Henry 61.
1989-My senior year, we beat St. Henry here, before I injured my knee, they missed last second shot, I got rebound, pandemonium. Bobby Hoying was a soph on that team. DSJ 62 St. Henry 60
1989-After my injury watching Steve Jettinghoff make layup after layup against Dayton Jefferson and score 52 points, DSJ 100 Dayton Jefferson 87.
2006-Spencer Wells' last second shot against Coldwater. People asked why I didn't react much, it's because I thought they were going to call Kazz for interference, film showed he was in the net some, but they didn't call it. DSJ 53 Coldwater 50.