Hasson, Rado enjoy a reunion

CRESSON – After 40 years, Bob Rado finally got one over on Paul Hasson by virtue of the Central PA all-stars’ 121-107 victory over Blair County in the boys half of Friday night’s 10th annual Altoona Mirror Basketball Classic at Mount Aloysius College’s new Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center.

Hasson and Rado have been fixtures on the area basketball in scene over that time, but Hasson, currently Altoona Area High School’s boys coach, had a 3-0 lead in head-to-head meetings, two as a player and one as a coach and all in high-profile situations.

“It was tremendous,” Hasson said of being on the floor with Rado, now the Homer-Center coach. “When I first saw that I was going to coach and then that Bob was going to coach, I thought, ‘Isn’t that a reunion?'”

Rado and Hasson first crossed paths as players in the 1973-74 District 6 Class AA finals. Hasson was a hot-shooting guard for Bishop Guilfoyle, in its first season as a member of the PIAA. Rado was a prolific scorer on the inside for Homer-Center.

“He was six-five,” Hasson said of Rado. “I tried to stay away from him.”

In addition, Bernie Jubeck, who was part of the announcing team for the local access telecast of Friday’s Classic, was Tom Lane’s assistant coach for the Marauders in that contest.

“We met for the District 6 championship at the War Memorial in Johnstown, and they beat us by I want to say five or six points,” Rado said. “We met them again in [the third round of] states. It was a tie game, and they put in a shot at the buzzer.

“And that’s how my high school days ended.”

Hasson and Rado met again as coaches in the 1986 6-AA boys title game. Hasson and Guilfoyle topped Rado, then the coach at Marion Center, once again.

“We talked about old times and how time flies,” Hasson said. “He remembers all of it.”

Quiet storm

Coming through the Blair County introduction line before the girls game, Altoona’s Darby Lee might have received her hardest high-five ever courtesy of Hollidaysburg’s Courteney Storm.

It had nothing to do with the rivalry between their schools. Storm just forgot she was wearing a hard cast on her right wrist.

“She said it hurt,” Storm said. “I didn’t mean to. I’m right-handed, so I’m used to doing everything with my right hand. Now I have to do everything with my left, and it’s a change.”

Blair County could have used Storm. The 5-foot-9 swing player averaged 18.5 points for the Lady Tigers this season. However, the IUP-bound Storm decided not to risk further injury on a partially-torn tendon she sustained in the middle of the season of a game against Mifflin County.

Storm actually intended to play but experienced pain in the wrist as she prepared for the first practice. She came back to Wednesday’s practice at the Summit Athletic Club with a new hard cast.

Storm still attended both practices and suited up for the game.

“I’m disappointed I didn’t get to play,” Storm said, “but it’s still fun to be a part of it.”

The giving mood

The girls game was something of a Portage Area revival. Not only did Lance Hudak and his Lady Mustang staff get to coach 1,000-point scorers Olivia McCabe and Emily Chobany to another victory, but Stacy Alexander, who brought the program to prominence in the early 1990s before going on to a great career at St. Francis, returned as the Central PA honorary captain.

After introductions, McCabe and Chobany handed Alexander a gift bag that included a Lady Mustang sweatshirt and t-shirt and a coaching clipboard. But the main present was Alexander’s 1,000-point plaque – Alexander is coaching in Ohio now and couldn’t make it back home to attend a ceremony honoring her and the program’s other benchmark scorers.

Sharing the wealth

Every player scored in each game. Central’s Austin Cunningham hit a layup with 2:33 left in the third quarter to put everyone in the scorebook.

Voice over

Berlin’s Paul Ritchey sang the National Anthem before the games.

Ritchey has become a regular crooning the Star-Spangled Banner at events like these. He also handled the honors on Monday at the District 5 Athletic Directors All-State Games.

Before the second game, Ritchey added a little-known third verse Francis Scott Key penned as part of the song during the bombardment of Fort McHenry outside Baltimore during the War of 1812.