PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (Men's and Women's Basketball) – When rivals Shawnee State University and the University of Rio Grande take to the hardwood each year at Frank & Janis Waller Gymnasium for their annual matchup, the top performer from each of the four squads is presented with a plaque denoting them as the Dick Hyland Player of the Game.
Dick Hyland was a community staple in Scioto County, born in Scioto Furnace in 1921 and graduating from South Webster High School.
Hyland's connections to this specific game are abundant, beginning with his education at Rio Grande. He graduated with a Bachelor's in Education from URG, before achieving his Master's at the University of Tennessee. Back in Portsmouth, Hyland was a member of the Shawnee State University Board of Trustees for 24 year. He was also a member of the SSU Golden Bears.
Hyland was a 35-year veteran of high school and collegiate basketball officiating in the Ohio Association of Basketball Officials, thus his connection with the sport and the four teams.
Wednesday night marked the 12th year of the handing out of four Dick Hyland Player of the Game awards, as it began in 2004. But for SSU, last night was different than any other. The reason – the award went to a pair of Portsmouth natives in Jen Arnzen (SO/Portsmouth, Ohio) and Andrew Bendolph (SR/Portsmouth, Ohio).
There was little doubt either was the most deserving for their squads. Arnzen, a Notre Dame High School product, exploded for 18 points and seven rebounds, both career-highs. The sophomore connected a pair of three pointers near the ten minute mark in the game, which turned a one-point advantage into a seven-point lead. She scored 10 of her 18 in the second half, as the Bears won 87-81.
When the men's team took the floor, Bendolph – a Portsmouth High School product – took control early and often. The senior connected on 7-of-12 shots and 8-of-13 free throws en route to a game-high 23 points. Bendolph scored the first two and last points of the game, as the Bears defeated the RedStorm 81-76 to complete the doubleheader sweep. He added the first five points of the half for SSU, which helped to erase a 12-point halftime deficit.
With the award going out for the past 12 seasons – meaning 24 winners in Bear uniforms – the two recipients have never both been from Portsmouth. In a night that featured a pair of wins – the sixth doubleheader sweep in the last seven years – it was a local pair that made history.