Williamsburg mid-60s era Hall worthy
When I was back home in central Pennsylvania this past fall, a friend mentioned that the 1967 Bishop Guilfoyle basketball team had been elected to the 2014 Blair County Sports Hall of Fame.
I subsequently learned that Guilfoyle was the first Altoona team to win a state basketball championship. The team went 20-6, and four players went on to play Division I sports.
This record, however, pales in comparison to the consistent excellence of the Williamsburg High School boys basketball teams from 1964 through ’68, including the four seasons from 1964 through ’67 when the teams had an astounding combined record of 97-4.
The 1964 and 1965 (in overtime) teams lost in the state semifinals. In 1966, the Blue Pirates went 25-0, playing mostly Class A and Class B teams and averaging nearly 100 points per game. They demolished Jim Thorpe to win the Class C state title game at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.
The 1966 team beat Bishop Guilfoyle twice, including the Christmas tournament game when Guilfoyle suffered an epic collapse with a nine-point lead and 1:31 remaining on the clock.
Fortunately for the Marauders, the third game, which would have been played in the tiny Williamsburg gym, was snowed out.
The four players on the 1967 Guilfoyle team who later went on to play Division I sports also played against Williamsburg in 1966. The 1967 team, which unfortunately did not play Guilfoyle, rode a 50-game unbeaten streak into the state semifinal game and lost.
The 1968 team lost the state championship game at the Civic Arena by a point when Mount Penn converted both ends of a one-and-one with two seconds on the clock.
Dick Buckley, the coach of those great Williamsburg teams, has justifiably been inducted into the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame. Bill Kagarise, who should be in, averaged nearly 34 points per game in 1966 and was the second-highest scorer in the state that year, finishing second to a player who played in two more games.
This is not to diminish the accomplishments of the 1967 Guilfoyle team – any team that wins a state championship has had a special season – but the Williamsburg Blue Pirates were in a class by themselves for five years.
If any Blair County basketball team belongs in the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, they surely do.
The following observations are based on high school football games I attended the past two years:
Best stadium: Tussey Mountain narrowly over Northern Bedford
Worst stadium: Claysburg-Kimmel (the lighting is horrible)
Most picturesque: Williamsburg narrowly over Roaring Spring Athletic Field
Best hot dogs: Roaring Spring Athletic Field
Worst hot dogs: (Tie) Northern Bedford and Claysburg-Kimmel.
Best parking: Tussey Mountain (you park and buy a ticket at the same time.)
Worst parking: Northern Bedford (parking is convoluted, and there is no help.)
Best fans: Williamsburg narrowly over Tussey Mountain