Though local professional athletes largely came up empty this year, amateurs have left a legacy of fortitude and fulfillment.
Having survived the Mayan prophecy concerning the world’s end, we should give thanks for the beauty of life, including athletic feats. Our paid performers struggled this year, with only the Sixers (now there’s a surprise) exceeding expectations. While pining for parades, be grateful we have ample amateur talent to go along with that professional prowess.
The Lady Huskies basketball squad from Prep Charter High School, 1928 Point Breeze Ave., prepped for the defense of its Public League title by capturing the KSA Tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and notching a victory in Wildwood, N.J.’s Boardwalk Classic.
Senior Robert Kralle of Edward Bok High School, 1901 S. Ninth St., and 59 other Pennsylvania football players received the Mini Max High School Award from the Maxwell Football Club. The Drexel Hill ceremony lauded the now-freshman at Bloomsburg University for his academic work and gridiron gusto, which included helping the Wildcats to win the Public League Class AA title.
Point Breeze product Chaz Franklin reached hoops heaven, as he helped his Guatemalan unit to a championship, his first international triumph. He also coaches the Huntingdon Valley Lions, who have won 10 titles in his four years.
The college basketball season kicked into high gear with several local products helping their teams. Tyreek Duren and Earl Pettis, graduates of Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., paced La Salle University, while fellow former Saints Gloria Brown, Tony Chennault, Lamin Fulton, Antonio “Scoop” Jardine and Daniel Stewart helped the University of Texas at El Paso, Wake Forest University, St. Peter’s College, Syracuse and Rider universities, respectively. Jardine received aid from Dion Waiters, who spent time at South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St., and Southern alumnus Ramone Moore guided Temple University.
Looking to give their East Passyunk Crossing school another significant boys’ team to support, the Bok Wildcats returned to the basketball playoffs for the first time in three years. The ballers claimed the Division D title with an 11-1 mark under first-year head coach and 2011 South Philly Review Difference Maker Greg Frangipani.
A native of the 800 block of Morris Street, trainer Angelo Dundee made boxing history as the overseer of 15 world champions, including Muhammad Ali. The local product and Hall of Fame enshrinee died Feb. 1 at the age of 90.
Guard Maureen Fiocca, now a contributor to the Arcadia University Knights, helped to rejuvenate the girls’ basketball program at Neumann-Goretti. The sharpshooter guided the Saints to Boardwalk Cup supremacy at the Wildwoods Convention Center and the Chester Tournament title.
The city’s playoff basketball field included six local teams, with both Saints’ and Huskies’ squads gaining postseason berths, along with the boys’ outfits from Bok and Southern.
Behind senior standout Kahleah Copper, now a contributor for Rutgers University, the Lady Huskies defended their basketball crown with their second consecutive triumph over Central, a 70-34 thumping, at the Community College of Philadelphia.
Two days later, the boys from Neumann-Goretti notched their fourth straight Catholic League championship by fending off a feisty attack from St. Joseph’s Prep 59-57 at The Palestra. The overtime win gave the Saints their 70th-straight knockout against a parochial foe.
Southern hosted two basketball City title affairs, with the Lady Huskies posting a narrow 64-60 victory over the Saints in the opener for their first District 12 AAA championship, and the male Saints dumping Boys’ Latin Charter 66-57 for their four-straight conquest within the same district.
The NCAA and National Invitation tournaments welcomed eight players with local connections. Moore’s Owls and Jardine and Waiters’ Orange qualified for the Big Dance, as did Brown’s Miners, while Southern product Jamir Hanner and his Marshall University mates, Prep Charter contributor Jesse Morgan and his University of Massachusetts allies and Duren, Pettis and their Explorer partners gained entry into the NIT.
Despite strong efforts from Jardine and Waiters, Syracuse dropped its Elite Eight game to Ohio State in Boston. The Owls and Miners lost their first-round NCAA games, with Morgan’s Minutemen advancing the farthest of the NIT squads with local representatives, falling in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Another year resulted in another sweep of the Catholic League, City and PIAA Class AAA basketball titles for the Neumann-Goretti Saints. For the final element, the boys held off Allegheny County’s Montour High School 48-45 at Penn State University’s Bryce Jordan Center.