In the beginning it was all Perry Commodores in boys’ basketball as they jumped off to a 7-0 start. It appeared that they didn’t miss City League Player of the Year Vaughn Morgan at all. But then came the snow and a long delay. Once play began again Perry lost their first game and struggled to a 6-3 finish that dropped them behind the surprising Oliver Bears who finished a game ahead of them with a 14-2 record. Lost in this battle were the Allderdice Dragons who had an outstanding team but started off very slowly finishing the season at 11-5, barely beating out the surprise team of the season, the 10-6 Westinghouse Bulldogs.
ISHMAEL SWAIN, BEN MICKENS, EVAN SCHELL
The selection of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s third annual All-City boys’ basketball team is a reflection of the overall team play of the nine teams in the city. It was a collective team effort that led most of the teams to success this season, as there were no individuals who stood out from the rest. Eventual City champion Allderdice is a perfect example. Even though Ishmael Swain (16.5 ppg) was selected by most coaches as the best player in the City, his team won the championship because of outstanding team play. All five starters made the All-City team.
The same was true of Oliver, Perry and Westinghouse, the other three teams with winning records. With the graduation of Morgan it was not known how good Perry would be even though they were considered favorites along with Allderdice. But behind a balanced attack headed by Greg McGhee, Darryl Harrington, Marcus Smith and Bruce Grover, the Commodores rolled to a 13-3 City record, finishing behind the surprising Oliver Bulls for the best record. Oliver’s balanced attack was headed by Evan Schell, Tawayne Steele, Phil Ferguson and Delvon Murray, all earning spots on the All City team.
The biggest surprise was the Westinghouse Bulldogs, who have been a consistent member of the bottom half club for the past several seasons. But since Kenny Roebuck took over, the team has rapidly improved each year to the point where they finished with a winning 10-6, 14-10 record behind All-City selections Fleming Davis, DeAundre Epperson, Darrell Cosby and Marcus Falls.
The great play of the Bulldogs led many coaches to select Roebuck as the city’s best coach which led to his finishing a very close second to Andre McDonald of Allderdice for Coach of the Year. Finishing third in the balloting was Carey White from Oliver, who had the best overall record at 20-5.
McDonald took a very talented team and kept them focused after a slow start and a third place finish in the regular season to a very impressive City League playoff run in which they captured the City championship, after being blown out last year by Perry.
The Oliver Bears have been consistently under the radar the past few years because they generally depend on their defense to carry them which doesn’t lend itself to a lot of publicity, but under the leadership of Coach White they’ve been one of the top teams in the City the past few years, losing to Allderdice in the championship game this season.
The bottom of the standings were the Schenley Spartans and the Brashear Bulls, finishing with unheard of 4-12 City, only beating out lowly 1-15 Langley. In the past the bulk of the players feeding these two schools generally came from the Hill District, however, with the school board moving Schenley out to East Liberty, most of the Hill District students are probably going to Milliones which didn’t have a team this season, instead of traveling way out to East Liberty for Schenley or to Brashear. Milliones will have a varsity team next season, which will make things very interesting if Schenley remains open next season, which is not likely, in East Liberty, right in the middle of Peabody and Westinghouse.
The All-City team is a very solid team with a group of players very close in talent with Swain and Henri Chatman from Brashear, Davis from Westinghouse and Schell from Oliver who are on just about every coach’s first team. The others ranged from first team to third team. The top underclassman this year is 6-5 sophomore Ken Mickens from Allderdice, who scored 15.3 points per game. This kid should eventually be better than Swain or Will Clarke who starred for the Dragons last season. He has the potential to be one of the best the City has seen, and that’s saying a lot.
We at the Courier once again congratulate all 26 players who made the team from the first team to honorable mention and commend all the coaches for the time and effort they put into making these young men responsible team players.
The players and coaches will be honored at the third annual All-City Awards Banquet to be held at the Westin Convention Center Hotel, May 2. The guest speaker will be former Steeler great and Court of Common Pleas Judge Dwayne Woodruff.