Friday, February 5, 2010

Moshier: "Freak" sudden-death OT game remembered

That five-overtime game the Ilion and Mohawk boys basketball teams played last week sure brought back memories.


One of them was that Central Oneida League game between Utica Free Academy and Thomas R. Proctor High School played 36 years ago, another quintuple-overtime thriller that UFA won 70-68 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.


All that reminiscing also reminded Notre Dame High School graduate Anthony Scalzo of another memorable COL matchup played Jan. 20, 1961 at Proctor that was most likely the area’s first (and hopefully the last) boys basketball game decided by a sudden death OT.


The 66-year-old Scalzo, an East Utica native now living in Muskego, Wisc., played on that very first Notre Dame team, and the unbeaten Jugglers – then coached by Chuck Stevesky -- were trailing Proctor 45-28 at halftime. Notre Dame center Steve Remis finally tied it with his only basket, a hook shot with two seconds left in regulation. Scalzo said a fight broke out in the stands late in the second overtime. That’s when the coaches and referees, concerned about the safety of players and fans, decided the game would end in sudden death, with the first team leading by two points getting the win.


“I think the refs proposed that and the coaches said OK,” Scalzo said. “The tension was just so high and there was such close quarters (in Proctor’s old gym). …”


Notre Dame junior Art “Butch” Williams, who later starred at Utica College and eventually was inducted into the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame, scored the game-winning points from the foul line as the Jugglers prevailed, 84-82. Williams made 8 of 8 free throws, converting four 1-and-1 chances, in the overtimes.


John Pendergast scored 28 points and Mike Brown had 21 for Notre Dame. Pomp DelMonte led Proctor with 33 points.


“It was a freak thing,” Scalzo said of the sudden-death ending. “They didn’t just want to stop the game. I don’t think there’s ever been another sudden-death overtime.”


Let’s hope not.



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