Edgewood's Magic Man
Jon Hall, who set a county record that still tands by averaging more more than 11 assists a game in the 1979-80 season, will join his dad and coach, Jon, and Warrior teammate Jeff Cicon in the ACBF Hall of Fame
By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Jon Hall was raised on the basketball courts by great people. He has been mentored in every aspect of the game, as a player, coach and member of the media, by hall-of-fame personalities.
The 1980 Edgewood graduate can consider himself a member of that fraterinty when he is inducted in the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on March 25.
“No (I didn’t expect to make the HOF), I was only here one year,” Hall said. “It never quite crossed my mind. It was all about settling into a new situation. I just hoped we’d be successful. When I say we, I’m talking about my dad and the team being successful. The only reason (the HOF) happened is because of the guys I got the chance to play with.
“I’m proud for the whole team. It’s a team game. I’m pretty proud of the fact we did OK. We were successful. I’d say that even if we hadn’t been successful in terms of winning or losing.”
At the top of the list Hall will join in the HOF is his father, Jon, inducted as a coach in the very first class 10 years ago.
“That’s really pretty special,” Hall said. “It means a lot because I know he was a darn good coach. It means a lot to our family, especially my mom, June, who is the heart and soul of our family."
Hall comes from a hall-of-fame family. That support has always been important.
“I couldn’t ask for any greater parents than mine,” he said. “My mom’s a saint. She’s a coach’s wife. The most important thing my mom instilled was dedication. She was always encouraging me. She always had our game-day stuff ready.
“There were late dinners. That takes a special lady.”
Hall and his siblings, Jeff and Jody, were always behind each other.
“My brother and I would go at each other,” Hall said. “We did everything together. I give him a lot of credit for helping me.
“My sister would cheer us on, along with all the other cheerleaders. She went on to cheer at Bowling Green.”
Though the elder Jon Hall is one of his biggest fans, it was difficult, at times, for Hall to play under his father.
“It’s always hard to play for your father,” Hall said. “I didn’t play a lot at (Kent) Roosevelt as a junior. I split time. He was always harder on me. It was harder to play with dad. The point guard is the general of the team. He’s the one who runs the show. I knew his philosophy and what he wanted done. It was simple, don’t make turnovers, play great defense — which I prided myself on — and get everyone involved.”
JON HALL of Edgewood prepares to make a pass through the legs of Jefferson's Glen Brown during a non-conference game in the old Falcon Gym during tJON HALL of Edgewood prepares to make a pass through the legs of Jefferson's Glen Brown during a non-conference game in the old Falcon Gym during the 1979-80 season. Trailing the play are the late Ken Crandall (22) and Falcon teammates Larry Holloway (42) and current Jefferson athletic director Steve Locy (20). Hall will join his father, Jon, in the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on March 25.he 1979-80 season. Trailing the play are the late Ken Crandall (22) and Falcon teammates Larry Holloway (42) and current Jefferson athletic director Steve Locy (20). Hall will join his father, Jon, in the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on March 25.
ACBF HALL OF FAME COACH JON HALL (center) is shown with sons, Jon (left) and Jeff.
JON HALL (24) and Edgewood teammates carry Warriors coach Jon Hall off the floor after a big win during the 1979-80 campaign.
JON HALL (24) receives instructions from his father and coach, Jon Hall, during a home game in Edgewood's Northeastern Conference championship season of 1979-80. Hall will join his father and teammate, Jeff Cicon, when he is inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on March 25.
Hall was sort of a star, even in his youngest of playing days.
“In intramurals (at Franklin Elementary in Kent), I was named MVP and I guess I remember it because it entitled me to dinner with my teacher, Mrs. Gilley, and the sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Schneider, and the sixth grader who won MVP.”
Hall didn’t just gain a free meal from his exploits, though.
“They called me ‘Mr. Jumpshot Johnny Hall,’ knowing I don’t have a jump shot,” he said.
Two years later, Hall was going to school in New Philadelphia. In eighth grade, he was in Solon. Then, it was back to Kent, where he played for his dad at Kent Roosevelt as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
While in Solon, Hall met one of his greatest influences.
“I got to know Dave Rooney when I was in the eighth or ninth grade. I was at a Westminster basketball camp and he was the assisant.”
That connection would pay off a few years down the road.
After all the moves, Hall finally ended up in Ashtabula County at Edgewood when his dad was hired to take over the boys basketball program.
In his only season with the team, Hall teamed with 6-foot-5 center and ACBF HOF member Jeff Cicon to lead the Warriors to a 20-3 season. It was the most wins in school history since the 1948-49 team won 21 games.
“Edgewood basketball was kind of an unknown entity,” Hall said. “Most teams thought we were an easy two wins a year (before the elder Hall took over).
“When Ed Batanian hired my father, there wasn’t even 18 games scheduled. We had to pick up two games. We added Harvey and (Mogadore) Field.”
The Warriors were definitely a talented group.
“We had Jimmy Welty, Jeff Cicon, Bradley (Todd) Corlew was a move in from Ashtabula and Joel Cuffman,” Hall said. “We went eight or nine deep. We had guys in the post, including Bart Kanicki, Mark McKinney and Craig Kolasinski.”
Welty did the scoring from the wing.
“Jimmy Welty was, by far, one of the best shooters and best athletes I’ve ever played with,” Hall said. “He played the wing in our 3-2. He had quickness, leaping ability and most of all an ability to anticipate the pass. He could play any sport he wanted if he put his mind to it. If the 3-point line had been in effect, his pullup jumper would have spelled trouble for teams on that right side.”
Cicon, of course, scored from the inside.
“Cicon, without question, was one of the smartest players I ever played with,” Hall said. “He had great hands and was a real leader. You want to talk about people using the backboard, he did a great job turning left or turning right and using the glass. (Former UCLA coach) John Wooden would have been proud.”
As the point guard, Hall’s job was simple.
“All I had to do was worry about passing to those guys,” Hall said. “It was easy to get a lot of assists. Those guys were usually on.”
Hall was named first-team All-Northeastern Conference and Star Beacon All-Ashtabula County as a senior. He averaged 6.8 points and 11.3 assists per game theat season.
“The reason assists were so important was because of Magic Johnson,” Hall said. “It was the age of the assist. I had no problem passing the ball. I loved to penetrate and I loved to dish the ball off. That’s the total opposite of the way the game is today.”
The lack of a jump shot was more in perception than in practice. Hall did have his moments as a shooter.
“I always wanted to be left handed,” he said. “I practiced more with my left hand. If left open, I did OK (as a shooter) from the top of the key. I hit a couple of big shots to break open the game late against Conneaut. Teams would back off and dare me to shoot. St. John did that and I had a career-high 15 points.”
Though he averaged so many assists, Hall wasn’t the only Warrior who played the game that way,
“The biggest thing about our team was we were unselfish and had good knowledge of the game,” Hall said.
On the map
Edgewood winning on the court was unexpected at the time. The Warriors had little respect from other area programs.
When the elder Hall took over the program, he set out to change that.
“It was a wakeup call for everyone who was going to go play basketball at Edgewood,” Hall said. “My father came in expecting discipline and hustle. In open gyms over the summer after he took the job, there were a ton of guys out there.”
The entire district quickly got behind the team’s success.
“We gave a lot of energy,” Hall said. “We were coming off a 7-3 year in football. That energy increased the amounts of the crowds we got at games. That said a lot about the community. If you give them a winner, they’ll come out and see you. If you didn’t get there early, you didn’t get a seat. The crowds were unbelievable.”
Early in the season, Hall and his teammates made a statement to the rest of the area, though they themselves already knew just what kind of team they were.
“In the fifth game at Geneva, we opened some eyes,” Hall said. “We went and beat Geneva at Geneva and when we did that, we opened some eyes. We had scrimmaged Chagrin Falls, which was 17-6 and went to the regional that year. We had just beaten Harvey and beaten Harbor at Harbor. As a team, we knew we could be pretty good. I think that game opened eyes (of other people).”
Though Edgewood did lose some games, it was never embarrassed the entire season.
“We were 18-2 (in the regular season) and our three losses (including the postseason) were by a total of seven points. We lost to Riverside, 61-59, Madison, 50-46, and Lake Catholic, 45-43 (in the district semifinal) and they were all on the road.”
Hall and his old friend, Welty, decided to stay close to home for college.
“Jimmy and I went to Lakeland,” Hall said. “I was looking at Davis and Elkins and Walsh. Bob Huggins had just gotten the job at Walsh.”
The stay at Lakeland was short-term, as was his next stop, Kent State-Ashtabula.
“I stayed for one year and decided to transfer home to the branch,” Hall said. “I played for Rick Nemet. We won one game — we beat Tri-C West.”
On the bench
That one-win season was Hall’s last as a player. He would follow his dad into the coaching ranks.
“I ended up at Slippery Rock as a student assistant,” Hall said. “I transfered there because of my association with Dave Rooney. Who needs a 5-6 point guard? I knew I couldn’t play all my life.”
Coaching was a natural fit for the younger Hall, who made his mark in the realm long before he was old enough to fill the role.
“When I was in sixth or seventh grade, I scouted Alliance off the TV,” Hall said. “I had a better report than the coaches who went to the game. That was when Harry Fails (long-time Conneaut coach and ACBF HOFer) was at Alliance.”
Following in his father’s footsteps was always what Hall had wanted to do. It was a dream he chased and is still living.
“I was always a reflection of my father and I wanted to be teaching and coaching,” he said. “This is my 27th year at Kenston. I got the job because of Jeff Headman. Tom Ritari (who coached Hall as a sophomore on the junior-varsity team at Roosevelt and would go on to make the ACBF HOF himself) took over after my dad left, then Jeff took the job. I was an assistant for Jeff.
“Jeff is one of my best friends to this day.”
Another association with an old friend led to a coaching stint at Case-Western Reserve.
“Bill Sudeck was like a second father to me,” Hall said. “When he was Kent State, I was the ballboy. He’s in the Kent State Hall of Fame and the Alliance Hall of Fame. he spent 40 years at Case.
“As a matter of fact, I used to spend summers with Coach. They used to have Science Symposium Week and Coach let me stay in the dorms. I would go sit in on classes during the day. It was a chance to meet a lot of people from all over the country. I would play basketball in the gym at night against all of the inner-city kids.”
Hall also served as the tennis coach at Case. He currently teaches pysical education and coaches tennis at Kenston and is now a basketball assistant for the legendary Rod Holmes, Ashtabula County’s all-time winningest coach in basketball — boys or girls — in the girls program at Jefferson.
“Now, I work with a legend,” Hall said. “After I stopped coaching at Case, Rod and (varsity assistant) Don (McCormack) asked me to jump on board. I’ve gotten to coach with Jeanine Bartlett and Jason Root.
“I owe them a great deal of gratitude for allowing me to stay in the game. I can’t say enough about what great people they are.”
Hall made an impact on the game of basketball as more than just a player and coach. He has also neem a member of the media, serving as play-by-play announcer for WFUN broadcasts with ACBF HOF members Pat Sheldon and Gene Gephart from 1992 to 2007.
“I gave them a tape from when they used to have the fancast at Indians games,” Hall said. “I didn’t stutter or use uh, ah or um. I called the Lakeview-Edgewood football game in 1992.
“(ACBF Hall of Famer) Jim Cordell had just retired and Gene and Pat were nice enough to keep me around.”
Hall is also a sports writer for the Star Beacon.
“I helped Steve Goldman out,” Hall said. “I used to go in the visiting clubhouse for interviews at Indians games. Since 1993-94, I’ve covered the (Ohio State) Buckeyes (football team).
“I have loved working with the guys — Don, Karl Pearson, Chris Larick, Tom Harris and John Kampf — over the years.”