Aurora High Girls Basketball, Repeating History?

The Aurora High School’s 1924 Victorious Girls' Basketball Team. 1st row seated l-r: Nellie (Nella) Isham & Mabel Jackson, second row, Agnes Dreyer, Coach & Principal J.O. Fox, & Alice Dreyer, third row, Lois Riley, Leila Riley, Florence Dreese. The Dreyer twins in the second row are Donna Mattmuller and Jane Burns' Mother and Aunt.

The Aurora High School’s 1924 Victorious Girls' Basketball Team. 1st row seated l-r: Nellie (Nella) Isham & Mabel Jackson, second row, Agnes Dreyer, Coach & Principal J.O. Fox, & Alice Dreyer, third row, Lois Riley, Leila Riley, Florence Dreese. The Dreyer twins in the second row are Donna Mattmuller and Jane Burns' Mother and Aunt.

The 2010 Aurora High School Girls Basketball team is on a winning streak, hopefully to end the season with the conference championship. If history repeats itself, they will join their 1924, 1925, and 1927 counterparts in sharing this honor. The Aurora High School Girls Basketball teams of 1924, 1925, and 1927 were champions in Portage County. Their coach, as well as the principal of Aurora High School and coach for the Boys Football and Basketball teams during the 1924-25 seasons was J.O. Fox who proved to be proficient in his role. The girls competed in the 7th Annual Basketball Tournament of the Portage County Schools, held in Kent, on March 15, 1924. Class A preliminary games were played in the Roosevelt High School Gymnasium while the Class B games were played in the Congregational Church Gymnasium.

All the final games, played late in the afternoon and early evening of the same day, were held in the Roosevelt Gym. According to The 1924 Speedometer, Portage County Schools’ year book, “…the big green team of Aurora engaged the fighting reds from Edinburg. Although Aurora ruled a favorite, the lassies from the northwest met the most determined opposition, and were thankful to earn a 17 to 12 decision.” Further in the recap of the team’s season noted that, “In the final Class B Girls’ game, Aurora romped away with the contest; the score was Aurora 37, Paris 10.” The girls were playing in new uniforms that year, and from looking at a picture of the team from 1924, it appears that they wore short sleeved tee-shirts, skirts, knee socks, and high top tennis shoes.

The 8th Annual Basketball Tournament was held on March 14, 1925, in the same gymnasiums as the previous year’s contests. The 1925 Speedometer again recounted the action, “…The final game of the “B” preliminaries was between Paris and Aurora girls. This game proved to be a real fight with only one or two points separating the teams at any time until the last few minutes when [Mable] Jackson of Aurora got free for four field goals which decided the game in favor of Aurora, 17 to 9.” The Plain Dealer, in its coverage of the tournament, stated that “The Aurora girls’ team has not lost a game in three years.”

Less information was found for the 1927 team, with the comment from The 1927 Speedometer that “Both the boys’ and girls’ teams are making a creditable showing this season although several games have been lost. The loss of three regular players on last year’s squad crippled the girls to some extent but they are playing a fine game under the leadership of Captain Nella Isham.” Looking at the win-loss record, the girls’ team was impressive with a record of 8-2 under coach Deane Eberwyne.

Interesting facts about some of the players: local residents Mrs. Donna Mattmuller and her sister Mrs. Jane Burns are the daughters and nieces of two of the players, known around school as the “tall twins” Alice and Agnes Dreyer. By 1927, The Speedometer reported that Alice Dreyer married Mr. Miller and was a housewife, while her sister Agnes was a clerk. Lois Riley graduated Valedictorian of her 1927 class, Captain Nellie Isham was her high school’s class president, Leila Riley was a student at Kent’s Normal School (a teacher training school), Florence Dreese was a clerk, and Mabel Jackson was working as a maid.

We all hope that history will repeat itself with another winning season for the Aurora High School Girls Basketball Team. It certainly adds an interesting aspect to the history and sports of our area.

The Aurora High School’s 1924 Victorious Girls’ Basketball Team. 1st row seated l-r: Nellie (Nella) Isham & Mabel Jackson, second row, Agnes Dreyer, Coach & Principal J.O. Fox, & Alice Dreyer, third row, Lois Riley, Leila Riley, Florence Dreese. The Dreyer twins in the second row are Donna Mattmuller and Jane Burns’ Mother and Aunt.

2 comments

Bill Shankland

You should also know that my mother, Ermal L. Shankland (nee Miller) was sister to Harold Miller and Grace L. Miller, which makes Grace my aunt, and a cousin to Donna
and Jane.

Ermal L. Miller was on the 1922-23 Aurora Girls Basketball team with Alice and Agnes Dreyer.

Bill Shankland

The young lady, standing on the extreme right, who was unnamed in the photograph is Grace L. Miller, sister to
Harold Miller, who married Alice Dreyer, the mother of
Donna Mattmuller (nee Miller) and Jane Burns (nee Miller).