This Week in Local History: Basketball news from decades past

By Elizabeth Baumeister - ebaumeister@timesleader.com
Members of the 1968 Junior Comets basketball team were, from left, first row, Raymond Branas, Robert Crimmel, Mark Zavacky, Richard Thompson, Steve Broydrick, James McKevitt and Edmund Kera. Second row, Dale Cresswell, Coach David Harr, Frank McMannamon, Joseph Shotto, Curtis La Coe, Richard Zentz, Carl Chapman, Jerry Blahnick, Neal Blankenship, Harlan Finch and Frank Dermody. - Abington Journal file photos
Abington Basketball League’s 1978 Salon 500 team members were, from left, first row, Donald Butchar, Les Ferko, Jr., Jerry Gensiejewski and Tony Viloano. Second row, Sam Gelso, Sean Hanlon, Dennis Rekauskas and Ed Itchkawitz. Third Row, Coach Les Ferko, and Tim Crowley. - Abington Journal file photos
Colleen Lavelle, a sophomore forward for the Lady Comets, stretched for a rebound during the team’s 1998 eastern semi-final game against the No. 1 ranked Downington Whippets. - Abington Journal file photos

1968 — The Abington Heights junior varsity boys basketball team was undefeated.

“The Junior Comets compiled a 16-0 league record during the past season,” read the caption under a photo of the team in that week’s Journal. “The leading scorer for the J.V. team was Curtis La Coe. Frank Dermody and Harlan Finch were outstanding in defense and rebounding. The ball handling and outside shooting were carried out by Richard Thomspon, Robert Crimmel and Neal Blankenship. The Junior Comets have won 27 straight league games.”

1978 — “Title up for grabs” was the headline of an article about a local youth basketball league.

“The championship picture in the Abington Basketball League will become clearer after the conclusion of this week’s activity, the final regular season game in the circuit,” the piece read.

“Barton Earl Builders (4-2) were upset last week by Third National Bank (3-3) 52-39, a game that may prove costly in the second half. Salon 500 (5-1) still shares a portion of top honors with Jakes Barber Shop (5-1) by virtue of their 45-38 win over Mastercraft. Novick Chemical gave the Barbers a scare before falling by a 59-54 margin. Elsewhere Davis & Jones upended That Steak Place 44-35 to round out action in the ‘AA’ division.”

1988 — Lackawanna Trail suffered two losses at the hands of Forest City, when both the girls and boys basketball teams fought for District 12 Class A titles.

“The Lady Lions made it all the way to the finals; however, the Lions were knocked out of the race in the second round,” read the Journal article. “Ironically, it was the same school that spelled doom for each of the Trail squads. Forest City defeated the Lions on Wednesday, 48-38, in the boy’s competition and the Lady Foresters edged the Lady Lions, 35-27, in the finals on Friday.

“Both Forest City teams used the same strategy of holding back the top scorer from Trail to ensure their victories.”

1998 — The Abington Heights girls basketball team lost to Downington, the top team in the state at the time, in an eastern Pennsylvania semi-final game.

“For one half, the Lady Comets were dominated by the Downington Whippets, who entered the game boasting a 52-game winning streak and a number 1 ranking in the state.

“The second half was a different story. The Lady Comets outscored the Whippets by five points, but a 25-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome. The Lady Comets lost 70-50.”

Members of the 1968 Junior Comets basketball team were, from left, first row, Raymond Branas, Robert Crimmel, Mark Zavacky, Richard Thompson, Steve Broydrick, James McKevitt and Edmund Kera. Second row, Dale Cresswell, Coach David Harr, Frank McMannamon, Joseph Shotto, Curtis La Coe, Richard Zentz, Carl Chapman, Jerry Blahnick, Neal Blankenship, Harlan Finch and Frank Dermody.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_ABJ-LH-0314-1968.jpgMembers of the 1968 Junior Comets basketball team were, from left, first row, Raymond Branas, Robert Crimmel, Mark Zavacky, Richard Thompson, Steve Broydrick, James McKevitt and Edmund Kera. Second row, Dale Cresswell, Coach David Harr, Frank McMannamon, Joseph Shotto, Curtis La Coe, Richard Zentz, Carl Chapman, Jerry Blahnick, Neal Blankenship, Harlan Finch and Frank Dermody. Abington Journal file photos

Abington Basketball League’s 1978 Salon 500 team members were, from left, first row, Donald Butchar, Les Ferko, Jr., Jerry Gensiejewski and Tony Viloano. Second row, Sam Gelso, Sean Hanlon, Dennis Rekauskas and Ed Itchkawitz. Third Row, Coach Les Ferko, and Tim Crowley.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_ABJ-LH-0314-1978.jpgAbington Basketball League’s 1978 Salon 500 team members were, from left, first row, Donald Butchar, Les Ferko, Jr., Jerry Gensiejewski and Tony Viloano. Second row, Sam Gelso, Sean Hanlon, Dennis Rekauskas and Ed Itchkawitz. Third Row, Coach Les Ferko, and Tim Crowley. Abington Journal file photos

Colleen Lavelle, a sophomore forward for the Lady Comets, stretched for a rebound during the team’s 1998 eastern semi-final game against the No. 1 ranked Downington Whippets.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_ABJ-LH-0314-1998.jpgColleen Lavelle, a sophomore forward for the Lady Comets, stretched for a rebound during the team’s 1998 eastern semi-final game against the No. 1 ranked Downington Whippets. Abington Journal file photos

By Elizabeth Baumeister

ebaumeister@timesleader.com