Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — There have been many — many — moments, wins and losses both, that Gary Kellough can remember.
Off the top of his head, there’s the Division II state title that his Chillicothe Cavaliers won in 2007-08. Of course, that day, Chillicothe got a game-winning lay-up from Ray Chambers as time expired to beat Toledo Libbey.
Then there’s a 57-47 loss to Columbus DeSales in a ’06-07, a regional final loss that he says “helped his Cavaliers know what it took to win a championship” the following year.
There’s also a state semifinal contest at Miami Trace way back in 1977-78, where Kellough served as an assistant coach. Future NFL quarterback Art Schlichter was on that team, one that fell to Kettering Alter by a 63-53 final.
And, of course, there’s the two consecutive district titles his Zane Trace Pioneers have won over the past two seasons — the program’s first two district championships since 1970.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But rest assured that Saturday night will join that lengthy list of great moments that Kellough recalls. With a 65-41 win over Huntington, Kellough nailed down his 500th career coaching win, joining a legendary list of Ohio coaches who have reached that accomplishment.
“I’ve never even given a thought about 500 until now,” Kellough said. “But I think that when coaches when milestones, it’s a reflection of the program, the players that have played for then, the supportive administrations they’ve had and the dedication and support their family has shown them.”
Kellough, who’s career record now stands at 500-272, has endured head coaching stints at Zane Trace, Chillicothe and Logan. He started his career at ZT before heading crosstown to Chillicothe. He then spent the 2015-16 season in Logan before coming back to where it all began in Kinnikinnick.
He’s also spent time at St. Mary’s Junior High School, which was a part of Bishop Flaget’s hoops program, and at J.A. Smith Middle School before serving as a varsity assistant at Adena and Miami Trace.
Throughout all that time, there’s not a player that Kellough doesn’t remember. He’s had to adjust to changes within the game and changes within culture while adapting to each of his athletes’ individual personalities.
“Basketball and sports changes about every seven years,” Kellough said. “I don’t know how I’ve adjusted. Society and the way they looked at you in the 70’s is different than those things in the 80’s, and so on. So I’ve had the one ability to adjust and change the way I’ve had to function as a coach.”
The players that have been a part of Kellough’s 500 wins is a list that’s jam-packed with next-level talent.
To name a few, the eight-time SVC Coach of the Year has had the pleasure of coaching Chillicothe’s Anthony “Humpty” Hitchens, Jalen Ragland, Seth Dawes and Malik London, Logan’s Bo Myers, and Zane Trace’s Cam Evans, Jeran Cox and Chris Beard.
“I’m a born and raised Huntington Township man that grew up not having very much,” Kellough said. “Our family was a farming family. So when I look back in my career, who would’ve ever thought that this kid from the Huntington Hills would’ve been blessed with all levels of basketball players in his career? There’s been so many great players. I don’t know of anyone in Southern Ohio that’s been blessed like I have in a coaching sense. Those kids are like family to me. I still talk to a lot of them every single week.”
Kellough’s decision to come back to Zane Trace in 2016-17 centered around his grandkids, who he’s now coaching at the varsity level. He’s enjoying that decision and the program is reaping the benefits.
In the past three seasons, the Pioneers are 58-17 overall and 38-4 in the conference. They won a Gold Ball in 2018-19 and have now won two straight district championships.
This season, Zane Trace is 3-2 overall with a 2-0 mark in the SVC. And Kellough’s win total is at 500 … and counting.
“The biggest thing about 500 is, you have to look at it, God has really blessed me. At my age, I’ve got guys that are coaching with me who played for me back in the day,” Kellough said. “So He’s blessed me with the people that are around me, my health, and the settings that I’ve been in. It hasn’t been roses at all times. But those hard times have come because of a reason, and positives have followed those gaps.”