Flenory still ‘gold standard’ for WPIAL basketball

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Baron “B.B.” Flenory remains a legendary figure in high school basketball, in college basketball and to those in western Pennsylvania. Flenory was among 14 people inducted June 25 into the WPIAL Hall of Fame at the Embassy Suites in Coraopolis.

Flenory scored 1,800 points at Valley High School in New Kensington and was a Parade All-American as a senior, an accomplishment earned by only 12 other WPIAL or City League basketball players. He was Pennsylvania’s high school Player of the Year in 1976 and remains among the top 15 scorers in Duquesne University history.

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PROUD FAMILYB.B. Flenory, daughter Karma, mother Tally and father Charles celebrate the New Kensington great’s induction to the WPIAL Hall of Fame.

While Flenory rose to stardom with his accomplishments on the hardwood, he never forgot where he came from.

“I began playing basketball in 3rd grade and this is one of the highlights of my life,” said Flenory. “In 1968 Valley had a great team and won the section championship and that’s when I knew that basketball was going to be my game.”

“He played basketball every day. He would play in the rain and in the snow,” said Tallulah Flenory, B. B.’s mother. “I had to buy a new stove to keep his supper warm. B. B. was always a leader. When he was eight years old he started his own team. We bought all the shorts and shirts. I dyed the tops red and the bottoms blue.”

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GOLD STANDARD—A smiling B.B. Flenory shows off his 2010 WPIAL Hall of Fame award.

Among other distinctions in his career, Flenory holds the single-game scoring record at his high school and college. In his senior year at Valley, Flenory poured in 52 points in a game at Norwin. While at Duquesne, he tallied 48 in the West Virginia Classic Dec. 30, 1978. What was his most memorable game?

“In junior high school I scored 81 points in one game,” said Flenory. “I went something like 31 of 36 from the floor.”

What was his most memorable game in high school?

“I’d have to say Sam Clancy and Fifth Avenue. That was the game that I went down to one knee, dribbling the ball,” said Flenory. “We were winning by 11 at the time and Warnie Macklin stole the ball. That was a great game. I think someone collapsed in the stands, too, and died from a heart attack.”

What would B.B. say to his critics who would say that he shot the ball too much?”

“I would say to them that I am the only player in Duquesne history to lead the team in scoring and in assists,” said Flenory. “I shot 56 percent from the field which is a high percentage for a guard.”

After B.B. scored 25 and won MVP honors for Pennsylvania in the famous Dapper Dan Roundball game in 1976, it was time to head off to college at Duquesne where he was the centerpiece of the West Virginia and Duquesne rivalry.

Flenory was nearly killed after taking an elbow to the head from West Virginia’s Bob Huggins in a 1976 game in Morgantown. Two years later, Flenory was involved in a brawl against the Mountaineers at the Civic Arena, then refused to play at West Virginia after seeing a picture of himself hung in effigy in the West Virginia student newspaper. The West Virginia students threw pacifiers and baby rattles and referred to him as BaBy Flenory.

“I receive a concussion my freshman year when Bob Huggins hit me in the head and I received another concussion against Duke,” said Flenory. “At the Civic Arena in 1978 West Virginia put a box and one on me. And every time I went to the hoop I was getting elbowed in the head and I had enough and the brawl was on.”

Flenory already holds spots in Duquesne’s and Pennsylvania’s Hall of Fame.

As floor leader, Flenory injected intensity into his teammates. There’s no “I” in team, but there’s an “I” in win and winning is what B.B. was all about. Concussions may have ended his basketball career but his legend will live forever.

Other players joining Flenory in the Hall’s fourth class were Woodland Hills’ Steve Breaston (2002); Ambridge’s Dick DeVenzio (1967, posthumously); Southmoreland’s Chris Dugan (1967); North Allegheny’s Ty Moore (1990); Canon-McMillian’s Manny Pihakis (1952); Mt. Lebanon’s Gretchen Rush-Magers (1982); and Mc­Keesport’s Brandon Short (1995).

Former Washington athlete Jimmy Montecalvo, who died of cancer in 2008, was honored with the WPIAL courage award.

Also inducted were Paul Hindes (Girl’s volleyball, basketball and softball) from Baldwin; Harriett Morrison (Girls volleyball) from Farrell; and Art Walker Sr. (football) from Mt. Lebanon and Shady Side Academy; Tarentum’s Tom Stabile (official); Bill Christy (official); Michael Manzo (contributor); the 1959 Braddock football team and the 1986 Gateway football team, who finished 13-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country in USA Today and considered by many the greatest team in WPIAL history.

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