Honoraries selected for Mirror Classic

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

Former Mount Aloysius women’s basketball coach Joe DeAntonio, former Williamsburg star Jess Gordon, former St. Francis standout Rick Hockenos and former WJAC-TV sportscaster Tim Rigby will be recognized Friday night at Mount Aloysius College when the top seniors from Blair County and Central PA close their high school basketball careers.

The girls game tips off at 6:30 p.m with the boys to follow.

A Junior College All-American at Niagara County Community College and a graduate of St. Francis College during a rich early-1970s era, Hockenos was selected in the 10th round of the 1974 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. He was with the Bulls for rookie camp and played in seven preseason games before being among the last players cut by a team that included NBA greats Norm Van Lier, Jerry Sloan, Nate Thurman, Bob Love and Chet Walker.

Among the players he competed against were: Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Kevin Porter, Archie Clark, Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Doug Collins and Billy Cunningham.

After being released by the Bulls, Hockenos played one professional season in Israel and one in the Eastern Basketball League in 1977.

A fixture as a coach and player in the Altoona area, including the Mansion Park Summer League, for more than three decades, Hockenos will be the honorary captain for the Blair County boys.

A 1976 graduate of Ferndale Area High School, Rigby was a starting guard on a Yellow Jackets team that reached PIAA Class A quarterfinals after being upset in the 6-A final by Juniata Valley.

Rigby graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a degree in print journalism and spent more than 30 years as WJAC-TV’s sports director and 5 p.m. news anchor. He was inducted into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

He will be the honorary captain for the Central PA boys.

Gordon was a key part of Williamsburg’s four straight District 6 Class A championships and the Lady Pirates’ main cog when they won the PIAA title in 1997. As a senior, Gordon earned third-team all-state honors, was an honorable mention All-America selection by USA Today and was the Mirror player of the year.

Gordon played at Towson University for two seasons before transferring to Shippensburg for the 2000-02 seasons. As a senior, she led Shippensburg in scoring at 16.8 points per game while averaging 10 rebounds per game.

She was a first-team selection in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and earned honorable mention Division II All-America mention as Ship advanced to the Division II Elite Eight. During Gordon’s two years, Shippensburg went 48-14.

She will be reunited Friday night with her high school coach, Jeff Appleman, who will be coaching the Blair County girls.

A 1965 Altoona Area High School graduate, DeAntonio had a legendary coaching career at Mount Aloysius. From 1984-95, DeAntonio compiled a record of 235-74 and was inducted into the National Junior College Region 20 Hall of Fame as a six-time Region 20 coach of the year.

His teams at Mount Aloysius advanced to the NJCAA Sweet 16 three times and once to the Elite Eight. His teams were nationally ranked 10 times in his 11 seasons, his 1987-88 team led the nation in defense, and he coached a total of seven junior college All-Americans.

During the summers, he coached at numerous high-profile basketball camps with NBA coaches, and he was an assistant on the New Hampshire College staff that advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.

DeAntonio, the honorary captain for the Central PA girls, also spent two seasons as an assistant at Division I Manhattan and helped Robert Morris to the NCAA Tournaments in 2006-07 before retiring.

Tickets for the Classic, which is sponsored by Guy Landolfi CPA, cost $5 for adults and $3 for students under 12. They can be purchased at the Mirror between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Friday or at Mount Aloysius beginning at 5:30 on Friday night.

Rosters were announced Sunday and can be seen on altoonamirror.com.

Proceeds from the Classic, which is played in memory of Big John and Tom Riley, benefit the Big John Riley Scholarship Fund.