Mahanoy City won the high school basketball championship of Pennsylvania here this afternoon by defeating the Harrisburg Tech five in a fast game. The team thus earned the champ ionship cup and each of the players on the winning team was presented with a gold medal.
Two thousand loyal followers of the Mahanoy City High school basketball team greeted the new champs on their return from State College last evening where they won the tournament that places the Mahanoy five as the best in the State.
The conquerors of Nanticoke, Newport, Mount Uniion and finally Harrisburg Tech were accorded a great welcome at the local train station, and each player was made to feel the gratitude that the town felt to them for their wonderful work in the championship tournament. Tossed on the shoulders of their admirers, the long procession ended at an automobile, and with George Heinz, flag bearer, and a local "jazz" band producing music, a triumphal march was made about the streets of town.
Everywhere the cheers rang out for the athletes-heroes, and everywhere were the highest honors accorded the noble wearers of the Maroon and Black. With Jimmy Deem, a sub on the team, and whose long side shot tied the score in the game of games carrying the ball that brought us victory, the march went on until reaching the rooms of the B.P.O.E. where a chicken dinner, with all that goes with it, was served to Captain James Leonard, Thomas Courtney, Frank Dawson Edward Tolan, Vladimir Smith, Peter Kapo, James Deem and Edward August, all members of the squad, and to Coach Johnny Goepfert, Supt. of Schools H. A. Oday, and Russ "Bobby" Green of the Record-American force.
It was a great moment for the boys to cast all training rules aside, and they certainly did justice to the fare presented them.
The last two games that brought the championship
of Pennsylvania to Mahanoy City were won only after
a great up-hill fight. More than ever "The Old Fight" was
needed in the game, and Mahanoy who was not even
figured in the finals, had the fight that carried them through.
Trailing for ever thirty minutes in each game, they rallied, tied the score, and then passed their opponents and rushed on to victory. They were men of iron in the highest pinches.
The Mahanoy team was the smallest of the four teams that represented the sections of Pennsylvania. Striplings compared to the brawny teams of Mount Union and Tech, the locals had the support of the entire Penn State student body, and sent the students wild as they trallied and took the lead in the semi-finals and finals.
Fourteen hundred people saw the first game, while a thousand were present at the second. The latter was the best game of the series.
Mahanoy demonstrated in both games that they were not a "one-man" team. The Mount Union game was won only after a game fight, while the Tech game was won under the same conditions.
Tech seemed destined for victory in the champion- ship game but Mahanoy pulled out the victory with an outstanding effort in the final seven minutes.
Captain Leonard was a giant in both games, scoring the field goal that downed Mount Union in the semi-finals, and making four two-pointers in the title game (as many as scored by the entire Tech team). The last one ignited the rally that carried us to victory.
And then, when the praises of the boys themselves had been sung, turn to him who has been their leader and who has carried the boys thru the stormy season preliminaries until at last they have reached the pinnacle of success -- Coach Johnny Goepfert, the brains of the team, who has delivered the goods for Mahanoy athletes the past eight years.
"It's the proudest moment of my life," said Goepfert. "Those boys are world beaters. Give them all the credit in the world."
Tech had held the lead, 12-10, at halftime but the second half was Mahanoy's.
With Tech leading 17-12 and only seven minutes remaining, Deem sent the thousand spectators to their feet with a roar as he dropped in the second of two long shots that knotted the tied the score at 17.
Smith then scored a free throw that gave Mahanoy the lead, 18-17, and later added anotherr to make it 19-17. Leonard made the lead even safer as he stood at a point equal to the distance to the foul line (but in a position near the boundary of the court) and tossed in a beautiful one-handed shot for a 21-17 lead. Smith added a free throw to make it 22-17 (the final score).
Tech missed three opportunities to score during the final minutes and, as the clock was runnning out, Mahanoy held the ball and THE CHAMPIONSHIP WAS OURS.
They're off - perhaps to a State Championship. At any rate they intend to give the Newport team a hard game in their contest at Kingston tonight. The game will be played on the Wyoming Seminary floor. It's a new floor to both teams. Over thirty Mahanoy City fans will journey to Kingston tonight to see the game. The local team will be given good support.
The squad of eight left today on the 12:15 Lehigh train to Hazleton. The squad, in charge of Professor Oday and Coach Goepfert, was composed of Captain James Leonard, Thomas Courtney, Frank Dawson, Vladimar Smith, Edward Tolan, Peter Kapo, James Deem and Edward August. In the event of a win tonight, the locals will go right through to Penn State tomorrow morning from Kingston . They will return from the college town Sunday.
Four teams will contest in two games Friday at State College, the winners of their respective games then playing Saturday, with the championship at stake. Last year McKeesport defeated Williamsport in the finals.
The Hazleton Plain Speaker,along with handing our team the bouquets for their playing Saturday, phrased some nice syllables about our cheering. There'll be lots of it tonight.