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Catholic League Adds To Hall Of Fame Roster

By Keith Mills

A year ago, the Baltimore Catholic League celebrated 40 years of high school basketball in the area by creating a Hall of Fame and inducting 14 of the best players in city and state history.

Now, midway through the 2011-12 season, the second class of Hall of Famers has been announced.

Two members of the Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders and another member of the Calvert Hall powerhouse team of the early 1980s will be inducted into the BCL's second class on Thursday, May 3, at the Rolling Road Country Club. Also, former Cardinals coach Mark Amatucci joins Ray Mullis and Jerry Savage as the third coach selected.

Tim Coles and Leon Dickerson of Gibbons, Darryle Edwards of Calvert Hall, Darnell Harris of St. Frances, St. Maria Goretti's Phil Lane and Loyola's Robbie O'Conor are this year's honorees.  Former Gibbons athletic director Larry Callahan will be inducted as a contributor and Barry Scroggins of Mount St. Joseph and Gene Shue of Towson Catholic as honorary inductees.

Long before Shue played in the NBA for 10 years and led the Baltimore Bullets to the 1971 NBA finals against then-Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Oscar Robertson and the Milwaukee Bucks as their coach, he was an All-MSA guard at Towson Catholic and outstanding player at the University of Maryland. He lives now in Marina del Rey, California, and will come back to his hometown in March for the BCL Hall of Fame banquet.

Scroggins was an unstoppable 6-foot-5 forward for the great Mount St. Joe team of 1971. He was involved in one of the most famous games in Baltimore basketball history: a showdown with Dunbar, at Dunbar, to decide the finalist opposite Carver for the MSA championship, a game that ended in a near-riot and ultimately helped formed the Catholic League.

Savage, also a member of the Catholic League Hall of Fame selection committee, was then coaching at Loyola, which was playing City College on the same day in '71, and picks up the story.

"The old MSA (Maryland Scholastic Association) featured teams from both the city public schools and the private schools," he said, "and there were some good teams. Edmondson had Marvin Webster. Carver had Leon Love. They were both very good. Dunbar, of course, coached by Sugar Cain, was very, very, strong. St. Joe was very, very good. City was good. We weren't bad.

"St. Joe had lost to Dunbar the first time they played at St. Joe. But Dunbar lost to Edmondson so the St. Joe-Dunbar rematch was big, because each team had one loss. The winner would get Carver. They played at Dunbar and everybody knew it was a big game. We were playing City and Harry Dubek, their A.D., said we don't have to worry about crowd control because everybody's down at Dunbar.

"During the course of the game, so many people were trying to get in, but couldn't, and it got kind of ugly. Earl Monroe of the Bullets was there. Apparently he parked his car where he shouldn't have and started arguing with the police and supposedly he got arrested. Of course it had nothing to do with the game. So St. Joe defeats Dunbar in overtime. It was a great game, though a disturbance broke out inside the gym. It was a pretty bad situation. A lot of people got arrested and it would ultimately be the last time we played in the MSA.

"As a result of that, the athletic directors of the Catholic schools got together and said they wanted to play independently of the public schools and that's really how the Catholic League was formed. The next year, we had a six-team league: Loyola, Gibbons, Calvert Hall, St. Joe, Towson Catholic and Archbishop Curley. And there's been a Catholic League ever since."

And now there's a Catholic League Hall of Fame. Savage and the late Mullis, two of the great coaches in state history, are in it, and so are six of the league's greatest players. They join last year's inaugural class of Larry Harrison (Towson Catholic); Ron Holthaus (Archbishop Curley); Pete Budko and Tony Guy (Loyola); Quintin Dailey and Steve Wojciechowski (Cardinal Gibbons); Paul Edwards, Marc Wilson and Duane Ferrell (Calvert Hall); Devin Gray and Mark Karcher (St. Frances); and Will Thomas (Mount St. Joe).

Here are this year's honorees:
 
Tim Coles, Cardinal Gibbons Class Of 1982
When Dailey left Cardinal Gibbons in 1979, Coles arrived and the Crusaders never missed a beat. He was a scoring and rebounding machine for Mullis from 1980-82, earning first-team All-BCL tournament honors and averaging 24 points and 18 rebounds per game during his senior year. He set the table for a Gibbons team led by Marty Johnson, Bryan Simmons and David Brown that won its third BCL championship in 1983.

Coles went on to play at Connecticut, where he finished with 1,000 points and 800 career rebounds and was named five years ago as one of the top 50 players in UConn history. A graduate of St. Edward's School in Baltimore, he graduated from UConn in 1986 with a degree in marketing before playing professionally in Holland, Greece and Sweden.
 
Leon Dickerson, Cardinal Gibbons Class Of 1988
Along with his twin brother Cleon, Leon led the Crusaders to the 1988 BCL championship. A 6-foot-5 slasher who could shoot, drive and rebound, he finished his Gibbons career with 1,937 points, second all-time to Dailey. Leon and Cleon arrived at Gibbons in the fall of 1984 and helped the Crusaders beat Loyola, 71-63, during the '88 BCL championship game.

Cleon went on to play at Coppin State. Leon went to Holy Cross, where he graduated in 1992. He was stabbed to death at the age of 31 in December 2001. 
 
Darryle Edwards, Calvert Hall Class Of 1981
Like his younger brother Paul, Darryle was a defensive stopper and fierce rebounder for the mighty Calvert Hall teams of the early 1980s. He played on two of the Cards' three-straight BCL championship teams and was part of the one of the great starting fives in Baltimore basketball history -- Paul and Darryle Edwards, James "Pop" Tubman, Marc Wilson and Duane Ferrell. All five went on to play college basketball and Ferrell went on to the NBA.

Darryle and Paul grew up on 33rd Street, not far from the old Memorial Stadium, and played at the legendary Lafayette Courts recreation center in East Baltimore, which was also the home rec of Reggie Williams and Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues. Both Darryle and Paul went on to play for the legendary Jim Phelan at Mount St. Mary's after both were All-BCL tournament selections during Calvert Hall's amazing three-year championship run from 1980-82.
 
Darnell Harris, St. Frances Class Of 2004
St. Frances joined the BCL in 1989 and immediately changed the landscape of the league. Harris was one of the school's and league's finest players ever, with a dynamite all-around game and a 38-inch vertical jump. The Panthers didn't win a Catholic League tournament championship during Harris' time at the school, though he was named to the all-tournament team twice, in 2003 and '04.

He also played during one of the great eras in BCL history -- the early 2000s, which featured such extraordinary talent as Carmelo Anthony, Donte Greene and Malcolm Delaney of Towson Catholic; Will Thomas, Brian Johnson and Louis Birdsong of Mount St. Joe; Rudy Gay and Will Bowers of Archbishop Spalding; and Harris and Sean Mosley of St. Frances.

Harris played for coach Will Wells at St. Frances, averaging 19 points, four rebounds and four assists per game during his senior year before moving on to La Salle in Philadelphia, where he ended his career in 2008 as a 1,000-point scorer.
 
Phil Lane, St. Maria Goretti Class Of 1996
Lane played for the legendary Cokey Robertson at Goretti, the alma mater of the great Rodney Monroe, who led the Gaels to three-straight BCL championships in 1985, '86 and '87.

Lane earned first-team All-BCL honors in 1996, leading the Gaels to a third seed in the tournament.
 
Robbie O'Conor, Loyola Blakefield Class Of 1975
Long before there were Pete Budko and Tony Guy, Kenny Johnson and Bob Selby at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, there was O'Conor, who led coach Jerry Savage's Dons to the second of five BCL championships during the 1970s.

O'Conor and Budko, then a sophomore center, earned first-team all-tournament honors as the Dons beat Gibbons, 60-54, for the championship. O'Conor was a complete player: a gifted shooter and ball handler and one of the toughest players in BCL history. 
 
Mark Amatucci, Calvert Hall Coach
After graduating from Calvert Hall in 1970, Amatucci returned to the school in 1975, taking over for Tom Ackerman as basketball coach in 1977. Five years later, the Cardinals finished the 1981-82 season a perfect 34-0 and mythical national champions. Amatucci's record during that run was a sensational 117-27, with three straight BCL championships.

The first was led by Paul Edwards and Wilson in 1980 as the Cards beat Mount St. Joe, a team coached by Gene Neiberlein and featuring Frank "Spoon" James and Teddy Russell.

Amatucci left Calvert Hall to coach at Loyola College after the 1982 season and returned to the school in 1993. He coached the team again from 1993-2007 and is still one of the school's guidance counselors.

Posted Jan. 17, 2012