MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – Wade E. Miller Gymnasium is playing host to some of its final basketball games this winter.
The famed Middletown gymnasium will close Friday, Dec. 8 after a game against longtime rival Hamilton, Middletown athletic director Aaron Zupka said.
Middletown’s new arena, which will be on the high school campus, is set to open Dec. 9. The girls’ team will play Colerain in the afternoon and the boys’ team will play Lima Senior at night.
“We plan on bringing back all the state championship teams and other basketball standouts for the weekend,” Zupka told WCPO.com.
A new middle school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. Demolition of Wade E. Miller Gymnasium is tentatively planned for fall 2018, Middletown Schools Business Manager George Long said.
Middletown plans to take some of the old court and use it as a backdrop for the trophy case in the new arena. Some pieces of the current floor will also be cut up and sold, Zupka said. That won't happen until least fall 2018 because the gym will still be open and used for practices, games and middle school basketball until the new middle school is complete.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association boys’ basketball season opens the 2017-18 campaign on Nov. 30 next school year.
Wade E. Miller Gymnasium -- which opened in 1952 -- has played host to many memorable games and players over the years, including Middletown legend and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas. The Middies had a 76-game overall win streak with Lucas during 1956 and '57 -- both of which included state titles.
In 2013, Middletown dedicated Jerry Lucas Court in a ceremony at the gymnasium.
"I hate to see the gym go," Lucas told WCPO.com. "There is a lot of nostalgia in that so it's a shame to see it go that's for sure."
Lucas, who has lives in California and also spends time in Florida, occasionally visits Ohio and some of its high schools. He still has many friends in Middletown and attends the state basketball tournament in Columbus each March.
Middletown holds a state-record seven state boys' basketball titles. The Middies won state titles in 1957, '56, '53, ’52, ’47, ’46 and ’44.