Mirror Classic names coaches

The coaches are set for the eighth annual Altoona Mirror Basketball Classic.

Claysburg-Kimmel High School’s Jeff Appleman and Bellwood-Antis’ Brent Gerwert have been selected to coach the Blair County teams while Forest Hills’ Carol Cecere and Northern Bedford’s Barry Crawford will head the Central PA teams.

The Classic will be played Friday, April 5, at Mount Aloysius College. The girls game will tip at 6:30 p.m., followed by the boys game at 8.

Appleman has won more games than any coach in Blair County history (boys or girls). He recently completed his first season at Claysburg and his 27th season overall.

In leading the Lady Bulldogs to a 16-6 record, Appleman surpassed the 500-victory plateau, and his overall record, including eight seasons at Hollidaysburg and 18 at Williamsburg, stands at 513-173.

He led Williamsburg to the 1997 PIAA Class A title, the PIAA silver ball in 1995 and went 379-86 at his alma mater.

Cecere is in the midst of her 18th season as head coach at Forest Hills and 23rd season overall. She began as an assistant coach under the direction of Gary Mehall and K.C. Ladish and became the Lady Rangers’ head coach in 1995.

She’s led Forest Hills to three District 6 championships in the last four years as the Lady Rangers won AAA in 2010, AA in 2012 and AAA again this year.

Gerwert is a 1997 graduate of Bellwood, where he’s the Blue Devils’ all-time leading scorer with 1,647 points. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he was a two-year captain.

As a coach, Gerwert has a career record of 88-57 – five seasons at Bellwood (78-43) and one at Penn Cambria. He started his coaching career on the Altoona Mountain Lions’ staff under Kraig Hetz.

Like the other three coaches in the Classic, Crawford is mentoring his alma mater, where he’s completed 15 seasons, and he’s led the Panthers to a record of 201-176. Prior to becoming a head coach, he began his career under veteran coach Lew Ewart and served as an assistant coach for 13 seasons.

A 1980 graduate of NBC, Crawford was Northern’s first 1,000-point scorer and held the school scoring record from 1980-87.

Tickets for the Classic are priced at $5 for the doubleheader for adults and $3 for students 12 and under.

Tickets will be sold at the Mirror (301 Cayuga Avenue) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Team rates (15 tickets for $45) are available by calling Elin Woods at 946-7536.

The doubleheader, sponsored by Guy Landolfi CPA, is played in memory of Big John and Tom Riley, and proceeds benefit the Big John Riley Scholarship Fund.

Team rosters and honorary captains will be announced in the coming weeks.