October 20, 2017

   

SPORTS HALL OF FAME

Sports Hall of Fame

 

     Welcome to the ConshyStuff .com Sports Hall of Fame.  This Hall of Fame site was created in an effort to honor some of our residents who have excelled in sports.  We feel the need to clarify the word sports, at ConshyStuff .com the world of sports includes, and not limited to baseball, football, and basketball of course. Also, if you have ever participated, coached, served as an officer, built it, supported it, directed it, wrote about it, reported it, paid for it, or twisted an ankle doing it, participated in soap box derby, cheerleading, little league baseball, football, CYO, Bocce, darts, or kicked the game winning kick up onto the balcony at the Fellowship House, then the Hall of Fame committee might be considering you.  Current athletes, future athletes, and past athletes will all be considered for our Hall Wall.  Make sure you take a minute to read all the inductees; you’ll be fascinated at some of our past residents who have accomplished greatness in the world of sports, even if only for a minute.

     

Arthur Andrey, Sr.

Art Andrey would best be recalled by his many friends and family members as “Tut” pronounced “Toot,” or “Tutti” pronounced “Tut-ie.”  Tutti was around the Conshohocken sports scene his entire life participating as a long time league official for the Conshohocken Little League Baseball and Football programs.  He was also a PIAA football, basketball and softball official for 40 years.  He was an official for the Norristown Chapter of both football and basketball.  In his heyday Tutti also played softball for a number of area teams.

Many residents will recall Tutti as a great Little League coach, having coached the Blue Jays for many years along with a number of other teams.  His coaching style was a mold for young coaches to follow.  Tutti never got upset with a player, umpire’s, parents or other coaches, Tutti had this calm demeanor about him and that calmness resonated among his players.

With all Tutti accomplished in his lifetime he’ll best be remembered for his contribution to the Conshohocken Little League T-Ball program.  Conshohocken Little League T-Ball was started in 1978, games were played on Saturday morning at the Conshohocken Bocce Club Field located on West Third Avenue, and the league got mild reviews from league officials and parents.  In 1979, less than half the schedule was completed before the league fell apart due to lack of coaches, umpires, and kids.

In 1980 the league appointed Tutti to step in and see once and for all if the T-Ball program could be saved.  Tutti accepted the challenge, met with the coaches, revised T-Ball rules and regulations, and within a year Conshohocken boasted having one of the finest T-Ball programs not only in Montgomery County but throughout the District 22 Little League playing area.  Thanks to Tutti’s efforts by the mid to late 1980’s Conshohocken Little League 12 year old All Stars were winning District 22 Championships with children who had participated in the T-Ball program that Tutti had managed to save.

Rich McMullen

Sometimes we don’t always give recognition to the coaches and fathers who go out and quietly participate in positive community and sporting events.  They show up, coach, and participate in whatever is asked of them, in the end making a positive impact on both the children and the program.

Long time Conshohocken resident Rich McMullen is one of those positive influences.  Rich coached for nearly a decade first with Holy Saviour CYO Football Program, which later became OLV, Conshohocken Catholic, Epiphany, St. Titus, and St. Helena’s School.  Rich coached from 2002 until 2011, leaving a lasting impact with the players he coached.  Rich never talked down to his players, every play and every situation was met with calmness and positive reinforcement.  Many of the players he coached are adults now leading a positive life, and in some small way the positive lifestyle started with their coaches along the way and Rich was one of them.

 

Donald Stemple

Basketball, Kindness, and a Smile

 

     Don Stemple racked up 637 career CYO Basketball victories with St. Gertrude’s, SS Cosmas & Damian and Conshohocken Catholic during a nearly 50 year run in coaching.  When it all started back in 1952 Don would have been happy with a dozen career victories as he posted a 6-12 season with St. Gertrude’s.  The following year Stemple’s West Conshohocken hoopsters went 2-10, giving him a total of eight victories in two seasons.

     In 1954 his team went 20-1 and Mr. Stemple was on his way to more than 600 victories.  In 1961 his team posted a 30-6 season and from 1962-1964 Dons CYO teams went 108-17 that included a championship season with a 42-2 record.  The numbers for Don Stemple go on and on, but it really never was about numbers to Don.  He was interviewed many times over the years and following a 28-2 season in 1987-88, and a 30-3 record the following year Don was very clear when he said “Let’s face it, it didn’t have a lot to do with coaching, there were some very talented girls on these teams.”

     Ask any coach, posting 637 career victories certainly has a lot to do with the coach.  He coached both boys and girls in his more than 45 years of coaching, and every one of the kids that ever played for him love him, as a coach, as a leader, and a great mentor.

     Don coached for all the right reasons, how much can a player progress during the season, perhaps Don wanted to give a child a little more attention making them feel a little bit more like a contributing member of the team.  He also coached the West Conshohocken Raiders Midget Football team from 1972-1976 winning championships.  Don also coached football at St. Matthew’s in 1955 as an assistant coach and in 1957 he served as an assistant basketball coach at St. Matthew’s High School.

     His connections with the kids is what made Don Stemple great, that’s what landed him in the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame, and that’s exactly what landed him in the Conshystuff.com Hall of Fame. 

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Johnny Paul

World Class Bowler

     John Paul was born and raised in Conshohocken and graduated from the former St. Matthew’s High School.  Paul lived at 122 Fayette Street for many years, joined the United States Navy during World War Two and was an employee of the Walker Brothers at the time of his enlistment.  When Paul returned from the service he went on to work at Hale Pumps for 35 years as a maintenance supervisor.

     Paul wasn’t known for his military service, or his many years at Hale Pumps, but rather for his bowling skills.  John Paul was a World Class Bowler and for many years was nationally ranked, beating many of the top ranked bowlers of the day. 

     At the ripe old age of 22, Paul rolled a 298 at Charlie Lutter’s Conshohocken Community Center Bowling Alleys once located at Second Avenue and Fayette Street. (Current location of The Great American Pub)  The American Bowling Congress recognized Paul for rolling three perfect games in league competition.  He attracted national attention at a tournament in Detroit and beat a number of the nation’s top ranked bowlers. 

     On March 17, 1953, Paul had a dream night when he rolled an 800 score for three games, a fete rarely equaled to this day.  It happened at the Lansdale Bowling Lanes on St. Patrick’s Day, (In later years Paul would have never attempted bowling on St. Patrick’s Day, it would have proved dangerous if not deadly to the people around him) at that time only a handful of bowlers had ever achieved an 800 series since the game was introduced to Americans since the Dutch brought the game to this country in the 1700’s.

     John was a 1983 inductee into the Conshohocken Sports Hall of Fame, and even after his death in 1990, John Paul lives on among the greatest athletes who ever hailed from this great borough.

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Chris Kauffman

Basketball Scoring Machine

     Chris Kauffman could run and dribble the basketball like every other average high school basketball player.  Chris could jump like he had springs in his legs, out-jumping even the tallest guys on the court.  But his God given gift, a talent he developed going back to his St Matthew’s CYO days was his ability to shoot the ball, and hit net.  Kauffman’s shots rarely rolled around the rim, he really had need for a backboard, and no-one needed to tip in Chris’s shots, it was net, all he needed was net.  He could fire the ball from anywhere on the court, from any position, off balance, falling down, two guys hanging on him, and at times smacked in the face as he was shooting, but the result was the same, nothing but net.

     At the former Archbishop Kennedy High School he was MVP of everything basketball, as a Junior Kauffman was named team MVP, was named first team All-Area and First Team All-League.  Kauffman was also named All State Honorable mention.  He also was the first junior in the school’s history to score 1,000 points in a season.  Kaufmann along with his team-mates posted a 21-7 season record in 1987-88.

     After Chris went on to break the school’s scoring record he became Montgomery County’s all time male leading scorer that stands to this day.  Chris Kauffman played an exciting kind of basketball bringing pride and excitement not only to Archbishop Kennedy High school, but to the borough of Conshohocken as well.

Charles “Chot” Wood

Baseball and Basketball Standout

     During the 1930’s Charles “Chot” Wood’s name filled the sports pages of local newspapers with his outstanding play in two sports while attending Conshohocken High school.  The 1936 Conshohocken High School Championship Basketball Team was powered by the one two punch of Wood and Whitey Mellor.  On the baseball field Wood met all the components for being an All Star with his speed, power, average, and fielding.

     Following high school Wood continued to play basketball in the Conshohocken Church League where he helped his team to several championships.  His real love was baseball as he continued to play in many leagues after high school including Lansdale, the North Penn League, and a very tough Bux Mont League.  It was Wood’s play in the Eastern Pennsylvania League that caught the attention of several major League teams that offered him contracts including the Washington Senators.  Wood preferred to stay put as he felt right at home playing in the Conshohocken and Lansdale area.  Chot Wood signed contracts to play baseball for more than a decade after leaving high school playing in his left field position, often hitting with a better than 400 batting average. 

     One of Conshohocken’s greatest athletes from East Third Avenue was titled as “One sweet Ballplayer” by a writer from the North Penn Reporter, and Wood carried that name with him until he passed away in 2008.  Wood was a member of the former Conshohocken Sports Hall of Fame.

 

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Dave Traill

Conshohocken’s Greatest Athlete of the 1920’s

     Dave Traill, known as Davey, lit up the sports pages throughout Montgomery County back in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  When Traill attended Conshohocken High School in the early 1920’s he re-wrote the record books in baseball and basketball.  In basketball, he handled the ball very well just as Whitey Mellor did a generation behind Traill.  In baseball Traill had a gifted arm and used it to pitch many shutouts.  Following high school Traill played for a number of Independent Leagues in baseball and was well compensated for his efforts.  Davey continued to play basketball in the Conshohocken Church League throughout the 1930’s and early 1940’s until the United States Navy came calling, Mr. Traill served his Country during World War Two and always carried the Conshohocken name with him wherever his travels took him .

     While Davey made local headlines with his baseball and basketball skills, his swimming skills carried his name throughout the state of Pennsylvania.  Davey shattered record after record starting in 1925 when he became part of the Philadelphia Swimming Club.  In one of his earlier races the headlines read: “Philadelphia Swim Star Sets Speedy Pace.”  The sub-headline read: “Negotiates Mile in 23:44 flat, 20 Seconds Faster Than Former Mark.” At that time it was the seventeenth Annual One Mile Swim for the historic cup at Miquon on the Schuylkill River.  Traill’s home meets were held in Miquon while his away meets were anywhere from Philadelphia to New York.  Over a ten year swimming career Traill netted dozens of trophies and many record setting swim meets both near and far. Dave Traill was inducted into the former Conshohocken Hall of Fame.    

 

Tammy Greene

National Basketball Player of the Year

     Tammy Greene was a standout basketball player at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School from 1987-1990.  Tammy’s quick hands helped her to score 1,000 points during her high school career and when she graduated from PW she was the all-time leading scorer.  Tammy went on to play for Tom Shirley at Philadelphia Textile College in East Falls. In her four years at Textile she helped Tom Shirley and the Lady Rams to 87 victories.  On the road to the 87 victories Tammy’s accomplishments were some of the finest in the country.  She was named the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year for the 1990-1991 season.  She was twice named the NYCAC Player of the Year.  In 1993-1994 Tammy led her team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals.  In that same season Tammy led the nation in Division II scoring, with an average of 26 points per game despite being double teamed throughout most of her games.

     When Tammy hung up her Textile uniform she was Philadelphia Textile’s All Time Leading scorer for both the men’s and woman’s basketball teams.  While Greene pulled in many, many school records and Most Valuable Player Awards from the different tournaments she was also named the league’s Most Valuable Player for three consecutive seasons. Tammy was Textile’s first ever National Player of the Year.  Tom Shirley, who is a Montgomery County Hall of Fame Coach called Greene the “best player in the country including Division One.” By the time Tammy left the court in 1994, she was the best player in the country.

     Tammy was a Philadelphia Textile University Sports Hall of Fame inductee back in 1999.

 

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Fran Crippen

Champion Swimmer

     Way too young to be in any kind of Hall of Fame, Fran Crippen, who grew up on Ninth Avenue and attended St. Matthew’s School passed away at the age of 26, in 2010.  Fran was a world class swimmer, headed straight to greatness and despite his sister Maddy’s appearance in the 2000 Olympics, Fran is considered the greatest swimmer to ever hail from this great borough.  Fran was a six-time United States National Champion and won medals in competitions all over the world.  (Can we just stop and think about that for a minute)  Fran went on to win a bronze medal in the 10K swim at the 2009 World Aquatics Championship in Rome and the bronze medal at the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Irvine, California.  During training Fran would swim more than 45 miles a week, and also ran in a couple of New York City Marathon’s in 2008, and in 2009.  At the University of Virginia Fran was an 11 time All-American and two time Atlantic Coast Conference Swimmer of the Year.  Fran died while participating in the United Arab Emirates during the open water event, the 100 degree heat contributed to his death.

 

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Angelo R. Damico

Youth Sports Coach

     Ange Damico was a Conshohocken youth sports coach for more than 30 years.  He was one of the founding members of the Conshohocken Little League as we know it today.  Ange was very active at the Conshohocken Boccista Club (CBC Club) for more than 45 years where Ange along with several other members of the club including Emedio Cardamone, put the borough’s Little League in motion back in the winter of 1954, the first four teams played their games in 1955, on the field behind the CBC.  In the spring of 1959 Ange was very active in building the current Little League Field at Sutcliffe Park.  It was Ange who borrowed a bull dozer from the Alan Wood Steel Company to help level the field.  Ange went on to manage and coach the Orioles Major League team for more than 30 years.

     Ange was particularly proud of his role in developing the Conshohocken Golden Bears Football organization.  Ange coached for many years helping hundreds of children to grow and mature.  Ange was a coach to the end, preparing to coach in Little League for the 1994 season, Ange passed away in March, the league lost a great coach and mentor, and the community lost one of its very prominent citizens

 

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Charley Heavey

St. Matthew’s High School Sports Coach

     Charles D. Heavey, coached Football, Basketball, and Baseball at St. Matthew’s High School from 1943, until the day of his tragic death during Hurricane Diane, August 18, 1955, sadly, it was the first day of football practice for the St. Matthew’s Mirrors.  When talking to those who knew Charley personally, it was the same old tune from each of them, “Charley had a lot of success on the playing fields, but his kindness off the field, and his ability to mold high school boys into young men was perhaps Charley’s greatest gift to this borough.”  Heavey won many championships in the late 1940’s with his teams, it was said that sports in general was a 24-hour-a-day business to him, but he never placed the sport before the boy.  Heavey knew how to win, more importantly he knew how to lose.

Twenty years after his death a testimonial dinner was held for coaches, players and friends to come and honor, and remember the person they all called “The Thin Man,” more than 200 people attended and tickets were sold out.  Charley Heavey is the sheer essence of the great men and women who have come to serve Conshohocken over the years.

 

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Darlene Hildebrand

Montgomery County’s All Time Scoring Great

Darlene played her high school basketball at the former Archbishop Kennedy High School where she excelled at basketball.  To watch Darlene play basketball she was a reminder of former Celtics great Larry Bird, she couldn’t run, jump, or dribble the ball, but man could she shoot.  Following her freshman year at Kennedy in 1987-1988, she was an Honorable Mention All-League player.  Over the next three years Darlene was named First Team All-League, Team Most Valuable Player, and Bicentennial League MVP.  In 1990 Darlene became only the second female in St. Matthew’s/Archbishop Kennedy history to break the 1,000 point barrier, Karen Kozeniewski was the first female to score 1,000 back in 1982.  Darlene finished her high school career with 1814 points, as the all-time scoring leader breaking Chris Kauffman’s record.  During her four years at Kennedy Darlene helped her team to winning 82 percent of their games.

     Darlene played her next four years of basketball at Philadelphia Textile University located in East Falls.  In her freshmen year she was named “Rookie of the Year” by the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference League, and named Freshman All-American. Hildebrand hit 50 percent of her three point attempts, and twice led the nation in three point conversions.  On average Darlene converted 86 percent of her foul shots, and one point converting nearly 90 percent of her free throws.  When she left Textile in 1994 she ranked fourth in the school’s history in career points with 1695, was a First Team all-American, and was ranked third in school history in three point shots with 222.

     Darlene was inducted into the Philadelphia University Athletic Hall of Fame in the fall of 2004.

 

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John “Chick” McCarter

Conshohocken Sports Historian

     John “Chick” McCarter was one of those unique Conshohocken characters that enjoyed life, embraced his hometown, and gave back to the community throughout his life.  Chick’s father Tom McCarter served on Town Council for many years and was an active member of the Washington Fire Company for more than 50 years.  Chick followed in his father’s footsteps and was a member of the Washington Fire Company for 67 years. For many years Chick was a member of the then very popular Washies Sirens Band but his biggest contribution to Conshohocken was his knowledge on local sports   and sports records.  Chick maintained Conshohocken sports records going back to the 1890’s. Long before computers and microfilm thanks to Chick’s efforts we were able to piece together borough sports team’s records, and players. As most of us know Conshohocken has an extremely rich sports history with teams in several National Sports Hall of Fames.  Chick was a co-founder of the Conshohocken Sports Hall of Fame and in 1984 was inducted into the Summit Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and Conshohocken’s Hall of Fame in 1986.  In 2009 a book titled “Conshohocken and West Conshohocken Sports” was published by Jack Coll, the book was made possible due to the many photographs and a great portion of the information that came from Chick’s archives.

 

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Ira D. Mellor Jr.

“Whitey”

Sports Legend

     We have three words for Ira Whitey Mellor, “Greatest athlete ever,” to live in Conshohocken, play in Conshohocken, and one of the most modest gentlemen you’ll ever cross paths with.  Whitey played his high school ball at Conshohocken High School, and everyone knew this guy was something special.  Mellor signed a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He sat down with Bert Bell, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, his Eagles contract guaranteed him one hundred dollars per game, and an off season job pumping gas at a local gas station.  Whitey also signed a contract to play professional basketball in a Canadian league.  There are way too many stories to tell here but of note, Tommy Lasorda also once called Whitey one of the greatest athletes he had ever seen.  Mellor was a veteran of World War Two, and was also a member of the Fritz Lodge No. 420 F.&A.M. of Conshohocken.  For more than 30 years Whitey owned and operated a sporting goods store in Conshohocken and Norristown, he was also the founder of the Norristown Times Herald Baseball School.  One final note, Whitey was inducted into both the Conshohocken and Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

 

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Frank Zoltowski

Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) St. Matthew’s

     Frank Zoltowski was involved with St. Matthew’s CYO program for more than 30 years.  Frank’s endless efforts to help develop both boys and girls have paid dividends to both the children he has coached and to the Conshohocken community.  Frank has always led by example, and his leadership abilities have affected hundreds if not thousands of kids over the years.  Frank not only coached basketball, but CYO baseball and Babe Ruth Baseball as well.  In between coaching the different teams Frank has become the main stay at the Conshohocken Fellowship House employed for more than 45 at the Fel.  Frank has always been able to recognize when things weren’t going particularly well for a child. Many families and  children have sought Frank out for his help and advice.  In 2008 Frank was inducted into the Montgomery County Community Coaches Hall of Fame. 

 

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Hall of Fame Teams

 

     We here at ConshyStuff.com from time to time feel the need to honor sports teams, team’s that have accomplished a championship, or a particular fete of one kind or another.  An accomplishment that has made the school proud, and/or the community proud, a reason to celebrate.  Sometimes a team will rise to great accomplishments, but doesn’t have that Hall of Fame player, or even that hall of fame season, it is simply a Hall of Fame Team.

 

  

St. Matthew’s High School

1936 Basketball Team 16-0

 

          During the 1935-36 basketball season Conshohocken was a red hot basketball town.  Conshohocken High school had Chot Wood and Whitey Mellor who led the Golden Bears to a Section Three Championship, both Mellor and Wood led the division in scoring.  West Conshohocken High School was having a fair season, The Church League was playing with the leagues greatest talent to date with the Pettine boys and many, many other great players of the past.

     But no team was as successful as the St. Matthew’s Mirrors who posted an overall record of 16-0.  Led by team captain Don O’Donnell, who led the team in scoring with 195 points on the year averaging nearly 13 points per game, was quite a fete considering high school teams rarely scored 50 points in a game.  Late in the season St. Matt’s beat St. Katherine’s 23-16, O’Donnell scored 12 points, Flash Gordon added 8 points and Kearney had two points, Billy Kelly scored the final point. 

     During the course of the year Conshohocken takes a verbal beating from the lads in West Conshohocken, the West Side Boys have produced a staggering amount of quality basketball players over the years but 1936 belonged to the Conshy side of the bridge.  Late in the season St. Matthew’s put an old fashion licking on the West Side boys beating them 63-21, O’Donnell hit for 23, and Ed Kelly knocked down 16.  Pettine, Gordon, Kelly, Kearney, and Wesley also scored in the game.

     The 1935-36 season was only the fourth basketball team in the school’s history.  In 1929 Frankie Burns, Huck Devaney, Abbott Botto, Bud Keyser and a number of other students had the desire to play basketball at the high school level and assembled a team.  In 1929 the team pared fairly well and in 1930 the team played a number of experienced schools and won 29 out of 41 games.

     For unknown reasons there was a four year layoff from the sport and basketball started again in 1934-35.  In 1935-36 seven of the teams eight players were seniors and Coach Bill Dugan gave a lot of time to the program.  St. Matthew’s home games were played at St. Matthew’s old church once located at Hector and Harry Streets.

    Over the next 60 plus years no basketball team at St. Matthew’s or at Archbishop Kennedy ever reached an undefeated season.  Many of the school’s basketball teams were good teams, many of them reached the playoffs, but the 1935-36 team is the one team that will be remembered not just for being good, but for being great. 

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Plymouth Whitemarsh High School Baseball

State Champions 1994

The 1994 Colonials baseball team stood atop a school record with 25 victories, with just two lone defeats.  They had one more game on the schedule that included a bus ride to Williamsport Pa.  They were to play North Allegheny High School, who had played for a State Championship in three out of the past four years and they were showcasing five future Division 1 college players and a pitcher that was a fourth round draft pick of the New York Mets. So after 25 victories and the Colonials playing for a state championship it came down to this.  The Colonials went up 3-0 in the fourth inning, North Allegheny answers with four runs to take a 4-3 lead.  Joe Giovanisci hit a ball that scored Jude Nascimento with the tying run, and that brought the team to its dramatic finish.

     We all know how this ends, Matt Alteri on second base in the bottom of the final inning with the score tied at 4-4.  Eric Fisher comes up and strokes a 1-2 pitch into right field and sets up the state championship at the plate.  The ball thrown by the right fielder is a perfect strike to the catcher and beats Alteri to the plate.  Somehow Alteri slides his hand in under the tag, the ump yells safe, and the Colonials owned their first baseball State Championship in the school’s history. Fisher, Nascimento, Stackhouse, McCann, Mele, Giovaniscl, Caucci, Green, Reed, and all the rest of the players and coaches played a major role in the season and the championship.  A 26 victory season that resulted in a true Hall of Fame effort, not likely to be duplicated anytime soon.

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West Conshohocken High School

1940-41 Suburban “Six” Champions

     In the fall of 1940, and the winter of 1941, the talk was hot and heavy down at Min’s Diner once located at 104 Ford Street in West Conshohocken.  The talk was all about the West Conshohocken High School Basketball Team, who could believe the basketball team, would be 7-1 in league play by late February.  The West Conshohocken Hill Toppers had won a number of close games outscoring their opponents 604-476. 

     Head coach Jack Hinchey never expected his squad to post a 14-5 season record, before going into the Quarter Finals in Section One where they dominated Radnor High School with a 32-21 victory before losing to Ridley High in the Semi-Finals.  The Borough of West Conshohocken only supported a High School for 19 years from 1930-1949, the school was always handicapped with limited numbers of students resulting in very small sports teams.

     Fred Ingram was a substitute player on the Championship Team but hit some key buckets that helped the team with a victory over Bridgeport.  Frank Diesinger was a defensive standout in the 30-28 victory over Bridgeport.  William Hilt and Robert Schrack were Co-captains that kept the teams going in the tight games, ten games were decided by four points or less and thanks to the leadership of the co-captains West Conshy pulled out victories in most of those games.  Edward Fenelon, Leo Prusinowski, and Robert McDonnell all provided highlights during the season.  The Slater boys, Bob and Albert also contributed at times.  Bill Schaffer, Jack Graham, and Francis Kennedy all played key roles with their passing, scoring and rebounding throughout the championship season. 

   When you win a championship the cheerleaders take part in every win and loss, during the 1941-42 season, the West Conshy cheerleaders included Mary Shaw, Ruth Sowers, William McDonnell, Eleanor Waltemyers, and Helen Winners.

     It would be West Conshohocken’s High School’s only championship season, the following fall the world would change, Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States found themselves in the throes of a world war. 

     But during that magical season in 1940-41, all was right at Bill’s Lunch on Ford Street, the talk of basketball greatness was the only conversation at Reid’s Barber Shop at 118 Ford Street.  Over at the West End Garage in Wilsontown they talked about the play of Hilt, Schrack, and Schaffer.  Over at the Florence Café not far from the George Clay Fire Company they hung newspaper clippings from each and every game and at David Arndt’s Newspaper Store located on lower Ford Street, well it was as though the customers didn’t want to leave as they talked about game after game.

     For a brief moment, all was well in West Conshohocken, all hail the champs.    

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St. Matthew’s 1963-64 Basketball Team

 

     St. Matthew’s Mirrors had an outstanding season in 1963-64, under Head Coach Ed Givnish the team behind the power and quickness of Ed O’Donnell, Jim Pishock, Ed Burrell, Dennis Dougherty, and Joe Derro turned in a 19-7 regular season record.  During the regular season O’Donnell outscored an entire team, in a game against Devon Prep the Mirrors won 67-36, O’Donnell hit for 37 points, not to mention his 23 rebounds.  O’Donnell’s performance set a home game scoring record breaking the previous mark of 32 points set by Bill Kenny, although Kenny still held onto the all-time single scoring game with 41 points.

     After beating Bishop Shanahan 65-54 in the class B semifinals of the state playoffs St. Matt’s made the bus ride to Scranton Pennsylvania on March 15, to face off against Scranton Cathedral for a state championship.  The Mirrors led 10-9 after the opening frame, but O’Donnell was clipped for three early fouls and the Mirrors found their number one scoring stud on the bench for most of the second quarter.  Thanks to the play of Dennis Dougherty, Bovell and Derro the first half ended with the Mirrors down by a point 25-24.  Taking no chances Givnish kept O’Donnell on the bench throughout most of the third quarter where the Mirrors held tough and Doughtery ended the third quarter with a half court bomb that found the net giving St. Matt’s a one point led 44-43.  With a minute remaining in the contest Scranton led by six points.  The Mirror’s put on a scoring blitz in the final minute but fell two points short of a state championship.  At that time, the early 1960’s, who would have thought that this small catholic school from Conshohocken would be competing in a state championship game?  Every resident in Conshohocken, that’s who.

 

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Conshohocken High School  1963-64 Basketball Team

Class “C” State Champions

 

     Head Coach George Kirby, Joe Lewandowski, Francis Omar, John Reuben, Adam Ciccotti, Michael Ethridge, Michael DePalma, Robert Graham, Thomas White, Michael Howell, Joseph McFadden, Harry Kitt, Ernest Mathis, and Wesley Bennett are all names we’ll remember.  As of this date, (November 23, 2013) some 60 years after Conshohocken High School Basketball Team won the State Class “C” Championship, we are still talking about it.  For the above mentioned players and coaches, it was a great season, and an agonizing season.  It was a great season because the Bears posted a 14-4 regular season record, it was an agonizing season because three of the four losses were by a single point.

     During the four game championship run for the Bears, our team played a little un-fair, we didn’t have a star.  Opposing teams took the court with a strategy of working on Mike Ethridge, and keeping him off the scoreboard, it worked, they kept Ethridge off the scoreboard but never saw Harry Kitt coming.  The following game the opposing teams strategy was to block out Kitt, mission accomplished, but Bobby Graham would light it up, so the next team had a great strategy, take out Kitt and Graham, mission accomplished, but Buddy White and Mike Ethridge would have a field day.  And so it went, Conshohocken in the final four state championship games beat Northwestern, 77-62, Upper Dauphin, 79-64, Waymart High 65-61, and finally Coudersport 63-48.  The Bears won with a different “star” every game.  By the way Upper Dauphin came to play with a 22-1 record, Waymart wore a 21-0 record into the semi-finals. The only thing Coudersport was known for was their 6 foot 8 inch All State First Team selection Dan Wetzel, and his team mates all averaging over six feet, Conshohocken didn’t have any players at six feet.  Coudersport Pa. is a little town located in Potter County, the town’s only claim to fame came in 1954 when Elliot Ness died in the small town.  Coudersport’s basketball team state championship dreams also died there a decade after Ness.    

     More than a dozen fire companies paraded the team, parents, coaches and school officials along Fayette Street for a championship parade.  Then came the championship dinner, the championship awards, honors by every organization in the borough, and there were a lot of them at the time.  For Conshohocken, things would never be better, as a matter of fact, two years later the school was closed.  Nearly thirty years later, St. Matthew’s/Archbishop Kennedy would suffer the same fate.

Not enough can be said about this team effort.

 

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Plymouth Whitemarsh High School

1962-63 State Champions—1963-64 State Runner Up

 

     During the six decades since Plymouth Whitemarsh High School opened their doors the school has produced some outstanding sports teams.  Boys Basketball would be at the top of that list with seven district championships and three state championships.  On March 27, 2010 the Colonials defeated Penn Wood in the championship game 58-51.  In 1997 P-W knocked off a talented Franklin Regional team for the championship.  These were two outstanding teams, but the greatest teams to ever take the court in the Montgomery County area was the Plymouth Whitemarsh teams from 1962-63, when the team posted a 24-0 record, and won the state title, and in 1963-64 when the team fought their way back to the state championship game only to lose in heart breaking fashion. 

     Back in the fall of 1962 a group of guys came together on the basketball court and started winning a few games at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.  Guys like Bob Olszewski, John Thompson, Carl Buchholz, Jim Moore, Ed Szczesny, and John Pergine contributed to beating Lower Merion, (a close game 57-55) Cheltenham, Great Valley, Delhaas, Radnor and Ridley Township.  By mid-season Ron Douglass, John Hanley, Bill Mitchell, Harlod Frankenfield, Joe Gallagher, Wayne Staley and Bob McKay helped keep the winning streak alive.  By the end of the season the Colonials were beating up on teams winning by 60 points when they knocked off Harrington 90-30, and a 93-51 victory over Penncrest.

     Head Coach Hank Stofko coached his team to District One playoff wins over Coatesville and Upper Darby.  They pulled out a two point win in the InterDistrict championship game beating Catasauqua 51-49.  Beat William Penn by four points in the Eastern Finals and rolled over Norwin 74-54 for the State Championship.  It was a glorious time for these young men, their coaches including Tom McGowan and Dan Turner both Assistant Coaches, and it was a glorious time for the school.

     The 1963-64 season was much of the same.  Ed Szczesny and John Pergine were returning players who knew all about winning, so did guys like Mattis, Hanley, Peterson, Selferth, Staley, Mitchell, Frankenfield, Cowgill, Archibald, Kiehl, and Olley.  These guys worked their way back to the State Championship Finals. 

     This ending would turn out a little different as P-W would fall to Uniontown 62-51, but the season was no less sensational.  The players, students, teachers and staff, along with members of the community witnessed something very special.  This was the Golden Era in Plymouth Whitemarsh Basketball history.  Hank Stofko set the bar, it was these two teams that let all future teams at the school know that success at the highest level is achievable.  In a way these two teams have become the ghost of basketball at P-W, a ghost that the 1997 and 2010 teams chased, caught up to, and went down in history.

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