Philadelphia High School Basketball
A Look at Simon Gratz High's
31-0 Season in 1992-93 . . .
This page includes stories, special lists, record breakdown, scoring
breakdown for league games and recaps of postseason games.
To provide additions/corrections:email@example.com.
Thanks to Tom Taylor for his help.
Return to TedSilary.com Home Page
| In 1991, when
he was a sophomore and halfway through his illustrious career, Rasheed
Wallace got to meet Overbrook alum Wilt Chamberlain on the day Wilt returned
to 'Brook to be part of the school's first sports HOF class. With his back
to the camera is Philly man-about-basketball Sonny Hill, who brought them
Photo by Ted Silary.
Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee
Tribute Page for Gratz'
31-0 Season in 1992-93
This story, about their place in city history, was written one day after the Bulldogs completed the season. The story about the victory IN the Public League championship game can be found here.
No. 3 was the '77 West Philadelphia team. Its headliners were 6-6
All- America Gene Banks, whose career produced a 79-2 overall
record, and 6-7 Clarence Tillman, who was an All-America in '78.
Man-about-basketball Sonny Hill, who has witnessed all of the city's great teams and players since the early 1950s, feels that the '55 and '58 Overbrook squads must remain one-two.
"But I would think," he said, "that this Gratz team would be able to beat Gene's team. As great as Gene was, he would have a difficult time, at 6-6, against someone as tall and as good as Rasheed. I mean, he just closes the inside off.
"Then, there's the depth factor. Gene's team didn't have people coming off the bench like Turner and Stewart. With them, you're talking some heavy artillery."
Hill got excited watching these Bulldogs play defense.
"That's what leaped out at me. That's what I'll always remember about them," he said. "Coach Ellerbee deserves so much credit for the excellent job he did in selling those kids on the benefits of playing that style."
Vince Miller agrees with Hill.
"When two teams are equal, which Gene's team and Rasheed's team basically were, you have to look at the big guys," Miller said. "A good 6-11 player is always going to dominate a good 6-6 player.
"Rasheed, potentially, is the best big guy to come out of this city since Wilt. Some of my contemporaries don't agree. They don't get to games, but they're always asking me, 'If he's so great, why doesn't he score more? ' I don't worry about that. I saw him three times this year. The boy can play."
Could Wallace have neutralized Chamberlain?
"Forget that one, buddy," Miller said, laughing. "There will never be another Wilt. "
But Wilt had incredible advantages in '55. The foul lane was only 6-foot wide. Goaltending was permitted on offense and defense. Heck, he was as slender as Wallace is now. Pit their teams against each other with today's rules in effect and . . .
"Give it up," Miller said.
Joe Goldenberg, who coached Banks at West Philly, was hesitant to make comparisons.
"Gene's team would be much too old for these Gratz guys now," he kidded. ''It's good food for thought, but how can you really say?
"This Gratz team has to be grouped with the teams at the top of the list . . . But I will say this: Gene was a strong 6-6, and played bigger than 6-6. He still would have been able to go inside against Rasheed. And his supporting cast wasn't too bad. We had size and shooting ability, which was often overlooked."
For matchup purposes, perhaps the Daily News's No. 4 team, the Overbrook Panthers of '79, would stand a better chance against Gratz. Four starters (Ricky Tucker, Joe Washington, Richard Congo and 6-10 Tony Costner, then a junior) earned Division I scholarships. After playing junior college ball, so did Jeffrey Tucker.
"The one thing Gratz had that we didn't have was a strong bench," said Mark "Max" Levin, who coached that team. "When Gratz took starters out, there wasn't any measurable drop. In fact, the skill level might have gotten higher.
"Also, if this Gratz team wasn't the best defensive team in Public League history, I'd like to see who was. They had quickness and strength and played tough. You could tell that just by looking at their scores."
Dennis Seddon, Roman's coach for seven years and an assistant for five before that, loved these Bulldogs.
Roman, which is a strong contender for the Catholic League championship, was pounded by Gratz, 60-29, in the final of an early-season tournament in Johnstown, Pa.
"There is no doubt in my mind. That was the best team we've played in my years at Roman," said Seddon, whose teams play a national schedule and have faced a number of future pros. "This Gratz team had the best player in the country, yet they weren't a whole lot worse with him off the court. That puts things into perspective, I think.
"It was an honor to play against them. It just wasn't much fun. "
GRATZ NO. 3 ALL-TIME
In April 1991, the Daily News ranked the Top 10 scholastic teams in city basketball history. The 1992-93 Simon Gratz Bulldogs now deserve the No. 3 spot, we figure. Here is the revised list:
RK. SEASON TEAM W-L
|Scoring in Public League||Games||PL||PL 1st||PL Qtr||PL Semi||PL Final||Total|
|Games and Playoffs||Scored||Points||Furness||S. Man.||Olney||FLC||Points|
|Shawn "Reds" Smith||11||101||12||12||11||4||140|
|James "Noot" Smith||8||29||2||31|
was written after Gratz used a late comeback to beat Shawnee High,
of South Jerset, to win an upper-echelon tounrey in South Carolina .
By Ted Silary
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- James "Noot" Smith is
known primarily for his football exploits at Simon Gratz High.
This story was written after
Rasheed powered the Bulldogs past Olney and fellow big man Jason
Lawson in a Public League semifinal . . .
By Ted Silary
Rasheed Wallace and Jason Lawson are buddies, but business is business.
When the 6-11 Wallace and Simon Gratz met the 6-10 Lawson and Olney in a Public League basketball semifinal yesterday at the Civic Center, the former player was not about to go easy on the latter.
"Has to be that way," Wallace said, smiling. "Once you get on that court, it's different."
Three minutes after halftime, when Gratz (30-0) was well on its way to a perfunctory 64-44 win, Wallace took a long pass from junior guard Shawn ''Reds" Smith and prepared to dunk. He then got wacked from behind by Lawson.
As the referee called the personal, Wallace whirled around with a flourish and flashed three fingers in Lawson's face.
"That's three!" he crowed.
"That was the game plan," Wallace said. "We wanted to get him out of the game. Make him sit down. I wanted it to be an early-bird special."
Lawson was limited to 24 minutes by foul trouble and departed with 2:30 remaining after posting nine points (finalizing his career total at 1,270), five rebounds and three blocked shots. Had he played the whole 32 minutes, and had been allowed to wear sneakers with 8-inch-thick soles, Olney's fate would have been no different.
Gratz did not fight fair. In addition to Wallace, the Bulldogs came at Lawson with 6-8 Rondell Turner, 6-7 Lynard Stewart and 6-4 leaper Alem Watson while earning a spot in Sunday's championship game against Franklin Learning Center (1 p.m., at the Civic Center).
"Jason was outmanned," Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee said. "We kind of surrounded him every time he got the ball. That was no indication of what kind of player he is. I'd take him."
Said Wallace: "We tried to wear him down. We tried to keep throwing different guys at him."
At the other end, Wallace avoided being blanketed simply by stepping away from the basket. And, if necessary, by stepping farther away.
Believe it or not, Wallace played part of the game at small forward and showed why he has created such a national stir. Only one of his six field goals was a dunk. He added three garden-variety jump shots and - get this - a pair of three-pointers from a step beyond the arc directly facing the basket.
"I was playing the wing," Wallace said. "When Rondell and Lynard are in the game, Mr. Ell likes to put me out there because I have a little better feel for what we're supposed to do on offense.
"Mr. Ell always says to us, 'If you're open and you've got a shot, take it. ' I'm just like everyone else."
"When you've got a 6-8 guy and a 6-7 guy to do the rebounding for you," Lawson said, "you can go outside like that. He showed some good range."
Added 6-5 Alonzo Triplin: "We were trying to front him and back him. Then he went outside and stuck jumpers, including 'threes. ' It was frustrating. I appreciate the fact that I got to play against him, though."
Smith, who finished with 11 points and five assists, was not amazed that Wallace drained the "threes."
"Rasheed is known (to us) as being a great shooter," he said. "He's got all aspects of the game.
"Jason is a good player, but Rasheed - hey, he's on another level. The highest. He's got the whole, total package. "
In all, Wallace shot 6-for-8 from the floor and 9-for-12 at the line for 23 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds and rejected four shots.
Suspense was nonexistent. Lawson sank a pair of free throws 1:54 into the game to create a 2-2 tie, but forward Jamahal Redmond scored 54 seconds later and the Bulldogs never looked back. The halftime score was 31-13. The spread hit 30 points in the third quarter, peaked at 31 with 5:58 left and was still riding high at 30 with 1:22 left before the Trojans (19-5) scored 12 in a row.
In Gratz's locker room, Ellerbee congratulated his players on earning the school's fifth consecutive trip to the championship game, but was not exactly ecstatic.
"Some of us were horrible," he said. "That last quarter did not look good. We'll be off tomorrow, then Tuesday you'll get your punishment" in the form of a difficult practice.
Groans were widespread.
For Lawson, the games are over. He still must choose between Villanova, La Salle, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Nevada-Las Vegas.
Last week, he said he wanted to play with Wallace and that the odds were 60-40 that he would remain at home. Villanova is one of the four schools still alive for Wallace, along with Temple, Georgetown and North Carolina.
Lawson reiterated that he intends to delay his decision until the spring signing period, which begins April 14.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Wallace says he is not going to Villanova before the start of the signing period. Would Lawson still give the Wildcats strong consideration?
"I don't know what would happen . . . Maybe," he said. "If Rasheed doesn't go there, it's not like I'll panic and say, 'What do I do now? ' He's his own man. I have to be my own man, too. I have to do what's best for Jason Lawson."
Recaps of Public League
playoffs . . .
Gratz 86, Furness 42
Rondell Turner scored 23 points and Rasheed Wallace grabbed 16 rebounds. Warren Chance (15) paced Furness.
Gratz 76, Straw. Mansion 43
Rondell Turner scored 18 points, Rasheed Wallace had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Terrell Stokes dished six assists. Richard McQueen scored 21 for Mansion.
At the Civic Center
Gratz 64, Olney 44
Six-eleven Rasheed Wallace collected 23 points, eight rebounds and four blocks and shot 2-for-2 on threes. Shawn “Reds” Smith added 11 points, five assists, three steals. Olney’s 6-10 Jason Lawson was held to nine points and five boards.
At the Civic Center
Gratz 63, Franklin LC 45
With 8,500 watching, Rasheed Wallace totaled 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots as the Bulldogs (31-0) became the first city team to enjoy a perfect season since Overbrook in 1980 (34-0). Lynard Stewart added 14 points. Gratz was named the consensus No. 1 team in the country and the No. 3 team in city history by the Daily News. No one scored in double figures for FLC.e McFarlan (18) led Roman in scoring while Monroe (14) and McFarlan (13) were tops in rebounds.