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A Memorable Game and A Lifelong Friendship

A Memorable Game and A Lifelong Friendship

A recent trip to Harrisburg gave me the opportunity to pay a long-overdue visit to a long-time friend, a one-time “on-the-court” adversary, then a teammate, and forever my brother Larry Moore. His lovely wife Lana had made Larry a scrapbook of his glory days as a player for the Williamsport High School Millionaires back in

A recent trip to Harrisburg gave me the opportunity to pay a long-overdue visit to a long-time friend, a one-time “on-the-court” adversary, then a teammate, and forever my brother Larry Moore. His lovely wife Lana had made Larry a scrapbook of his glory days as a player for the Williamsport High School Millionaires back in the 1970s. Of course, we turned immediately to the pages depicting “The Game” in 1972, when my upstart Bishop Neumann Knights took on Larry’s prestigious Williamsport High Millionaires.

It was January 19, 1972 (49 years ago). The newly-minted “Magic Dome” was literally packed to the rafters, as 3,200 hundred raging fans — an area attendance record — awaited the marque match up — the fast-paced Knights, a small local Single-A Catholic High School, boasting an 11-3 record, taking on the highly vaunted, then 4-A Millionaires, with a deceptive 8-5 record. Normally an indescribable over-match, the Knights were off to a great start and very focused on pulling off the biggest upset in years.

While this year playing almost entirely a different cast of Williamsport players, the year before being the Mike Baggett, Lou Gingrich, and Brian Clay era, these same, then young and inexperienced Knights had almost done the unthinkable and came close to then pulling an upset of major proportions, losing that game by just 11. Things looked ripe for that upset this year.

The Knights were led into this monumental battle by new first-year head Coach Gary Koons. Their returning starting-five consisted of Mike Bloom, Mike Brownlee, Chris Pellegrino, Dave Hane, and myself. Significant bench players included Keith Burkhart, Mike Fischer, Mike Kirby, Gary Welteroth, Lester Loner, and Joe Clark.

Williamsport’s impressive five were: Sophomores Bobbie Janeski, and Sam Washington, Senior Teddy Wilson — the only returning starter — and seniors Larry Moore and Steve “Smoke” Patton, and were coached by the wily veteran Charlie Blackburn. Williamsport would stay exclusively with their starting five, the entire game, while Neumann reached deep into their bench to try and keep pace. The Knights were rated as the “pick ‘em” by the experts, so let the game begin!

Neumann led 17-16, and hopes were high at the end of one quarter, but Williamsport took the half-time lead with an impressive 2nd quarter 13-2 run, leading 46 to 36 at the half. At the end of three, Williamsport held a 67-55 lead. While Neumann held a 14-10 scoring edge in the 4th quarter, we could not get the ball away from the ambidextrous and elusive Teddy Wilson, and Williamsport ran out the clock with the game ending at 77 to 69 Williamsport.

Williamsport was let in scoring by Steve Patton with 23, Bobby Janeski with 21, Larry with 15, Sam Washington with 12, and Teddy Wilson with 6. Neumann was led by my 24, Mike Brownlee’s 18, Dave Hane’s 9, Chris Pelligrino’s 6, and Mike Bloom’s 4. Mike Fischer contributed eight off the bench.

At the end of our spirited reminiscing about the details of what took place during the game — the matchups and who schooled who — Larry and I both agreed that while those specific moments were special, in-the-long-run what is most cherished about being a part of “The Game” are the many lasting friendships, forged in the heat of “friendly” competition, like Larry’s and mine, which has now flourished over the past 50 years.

One memorable game and a lifelong friendship — how special!

Paul Petcavage
Paul Petcavage
CONTRIBUTOR
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