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/ Thanks!
   Thanks to Tom Taylor for his help.

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  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 together.
  Photo by Ted Silary

Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee


  *Tournament in Johnstown, PA
  #Tournament in Latrobe, PA
  +=Tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC
  @=Showcase Event
Gtz Opponent Opp.
2 Phila. Jobs Corps (forfeit) 0
71 *Southern (MD) 44
71 *Roman Catholic 29
54 Franklin 29
56 @Proviso East (IL) 31
62 Olney 39
79 @Redemption (NY) 42
69 #Penn Hills (PA) 27
63 #Latrobe (PA) 43
46 +DeMatha Catholic (MD) 40
66 +Westover (GA) 45
50 +Shawnee (NJ) 47
60 @Lake Clifton (MD) 48
61 @Dunbar (MD) 44
57 @Reading 27
56 @St. Patrick (NJ) 44
  PL Regular Season  
78 University City 44
67 Southern 28
98 Bartram 49
88 Roxborough 36
90 Central 32
100 Audenried 39
69 Ovebrook 47
59 Bok 30
78 Parkway 18
90 King 50
60 West Phila. 47
  PL Playoffs  
86 Furness 42
78 Strawberry Mansion 43
64 Olney 44
63 Franklin Learning Ctr.


2089   1173
69.6   39.1
2 points in forfeit not included


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.

By Ted Silary
  Bill Ellerbee is not by nature a greedy man.
  But now, as he basks in the warm glow provided by a 31-0 season and a third Public League championship in four years for his Simon Gratz basketball team, there is something more that Ellerbee wants.
  Access to a computer.
  Like many others, Ellerbee wants answers to burning questions.
  "It would be nice," he said, "to put the info into a computer and see what it spits out."
  The man in the street, mindful that Gratz won by an average score of 69-39 and had a superstar giant in 6-11 Rasheed Wallace, wonders how lofty a perch in city scholastic history should be awarded to these Bulldogs.
  First things first, says the man on the bench, mindful that Gratz also was exceedingly strong in 1990 and '91.
  Two years ago, when the Daily News ranked the Top 10 teams in city history, the '91 Bulldogs (27-1) placed No. 6. The starters were Wallace, Andre Griffin, Calvin Wingfield, Levan Alston and Contrell Scott, although 6-9 Wilfred Kirkaldy (who went to West Virginia and then suffered life-threatening injuries in an automobile accident) played extensively off the bench.
  Because they finished 26-4 overall, the '90 Bulldogs were not ranked. But check out this starting lineup of all-Division I players: Wallace (undecided), Alston (New Orleans) and Griffin (Delaware State), along with Aaron McKie (Temple) and Harry Moore (St. Bonaventure), two of the top performers in the Atlantic 10.
  All four losses occurred in December while Moore, who had been shot in the thigh that November, was either sidelined or seeing limited duty.
  "If I was going to compare the '90 and '91 teams, I might go with '90," Ellerbee said. "They got off to a slow start with Harry being out. But by the end, they were playing so well it was frightening."
  When asked to compare his '91 and '93 teams, Ellerbee said, "This team was bigger and stronger, but that team might have been smarter. A lot of those guys were true students of the game, including Rasheed, even at that age. Anything I wanted those guys to do, it was done right, right away."
  Ellerbee's thoughts notwithstanding, it's likely that the '93 Bulldogs would have the best shot at dumping the all-time biggies.
  They possessed the attributes most common to blockbuster teams: good overall height and the presence of a tall superstar, a swagger mixed with dedication to hard work, and depth.
  In actuality, this team had seven starters. Joining Wallace in the first five were senior forwards Jamahal Redmond and Alem Watson and two underclassmen guards, junior Shawn "Reds" Smith and sophomore Terrell Stokes. The primary subs were 6-8 senior Rondell Turner, who finished fifth in the coaches' All-Public voting, and 6-7 junior Lynard Stewart, who scored 14 points in Sunday's 63-45 title-game squashing of Franklin Learning Center.
  In '91, the Daily News ranked the '55 Overbrook team, featuring Wilt Chamberlain and Vince Miller (now Frankford High's coach), No. 1 in city history.
  No. 2 went to the '58 Overbrook team, which had three future pros (Wayne Hightower, Walt Hazzard and Wally Jones) in its lineup and a player, Ralph Heyward, who was a high school All-America the following season. 
  continued right below . . . 


  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. "

  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:

1 . 1954-55 Overbrook 18-1
2.  1957-58 Overbrook 22-0
3.  1992-93 Simon Gratz 31-0
4.  1976-77 West Philadelphia 30-0
5.  1978-79 Overbrook 34-1
6.  1984-85 Murrell Dobbins 28-2
7.  1990-91 Simon Gratz 27-1
8.  1990-91 Roman Catholic 28-3
9.  1949-50 La Salle 24-1
10. 1964-65 Bishop Neumann 22-1
Formerly No. 10 was Thomas Edison, 1968-69.


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
Rondell Turner 11 183 23 18 9 7 240
Rasheed Wallace 11 166 15 16 23 16 236
Shawn "Reds" Smith 11 101 12 12 11 4 140
Lynard Stewart 11 75 10 8 4 14 111
Michael Blunt 10 87 5 8 4   104
Jamahal Redmond 11 83   4 4 8 99
Alem Watson 10 53 11   3 8 75
Terrell Stokes 10 43 6 6 4 6 65
Brian Samuels 7 32 2 2 2   38
James "Noot" Smith 8 29 2       31
Eric Lackey 7 23   2     25
  11 875 86 76 64 63 1164


  This story 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.
But last night, the substitute guard earned a loftier distinction: The man who saved the basketball season.
  With 36 seconds remaining, in a gymnasium stuffed with 3,200 fans who by that time were battling elevated blood pressure and severe perspiration problems, Smith made a spectacular, open-floor steal to help the Bulldogs down Shawnee, of Medford, N.J., 50-47, for the championship of the 12th annual Beach Ball Classic.
  Gratz (12-0), which scored the final eight points of the game after falling behind, 47-42, with 2:11 remaining, preserved its No. 1 ranking in USA Today. Shawnee probably will rise from No. 14, given its gutty effort.
  As his delirious players frolicked around the gym, and before a huge bucket of ice water was dumped on his head, coach Bill Ellerbee credited Smith with making the play of the game.
  "If 'Noot' doesn't do that, we go home a loser, buddy," Ellerbee said. ''It's that simple.
  "When we need somebody to flat-out take the ball away, that's who we put in there. His hands are so quick. He worries the offensive man. He puts him out of sync. "
  In football, Smith, a 5-9, 175-pound senior, was the city's premier running back and the Daily News' choice for the Public League Player of the Year. But in basketball, he is used only when Ellerbee needs someone to count the cavities in the mouth of the opposition's best guard.
  "I always tell him, 'I'm here when you need me,"' Smith said. "I don't worry about how much time I get. At least when I get in there, I know it's for a good reason. "
  With 0:44 left, Rondell Turner converted a two-shot foul to give Gratz a 48-47 lead. The Bulldogs then applied pressure and Smith confronted guard Brian Earl in the backcourt, near Gratz's bench.
  "I wasn't thinking steal at first," Smith said. "I just wanted to make it hard for them to get it over halfcourt. But I saw there was a chance. I know how quick my hands are. I saw it and slapped. "
  Smith passed to sophomore guard Terrell Stokes, who was fouled at 0:20 and polished off a one-and-one for a 50-47 lead. Shawnee had no trouble getting upcourt, but 6-9 Kirk Luchman, a Florida State signee, missed a 15-footer and the rebound went to Gratz's Jamahal Redmond.
  Redmond missed his one-and-one and Shawnee had two more shots at a tie. Dan Earl, Brian's brother and a Penn State signee, missed a left-wing "three. " The rebound kicked out long to Brian Earl, who also missed a three-pointer, this one from close to the left corner, as Gratz's Shawn "Reds" Smith deflected the ball.
  As Dan Earl prepared to shoot, Rasheed Wallace arrived on the scene with his 6-11 frame. But he peeled off as Dan loaded up.
  "Afraid to foul," he said. "With the way refs call things here . . .
  "From my angle, it looked like (Dan Earl's) shot was going to hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Sure glad it didn't."
  Wallace, who finished with seven points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, was on the floor for the final three minutes. But he watched the previous five after getting involved in a shoving match with Shawnee's Rob Nadler at the end of the third quarter.
  As he walked to the bench, Wallace muttered, "This is a horrible tournament. I don't want to play anymore."
  Said Ellerbee: "If you're not in it mentally, you've got to come out of the game. Not just Rasheed. Anybody. I tell these guys all the time that basketball is not an emotional game. "
  Ellerbee took a huge risk by keeping Wallace, who had just two personals, on the bench for so long. With just two points, Luchman had been a non-factor offensively. But while Wallace regrouped, Luchman scored twice on easy follows.
  After the second basket, Wallace switched his perch from the far end of the bench to one right beside Ellerbee.
  "I told him I was ready," Wallace said.
  Said Ellerbee: "That's what you want to see. You want your best player to come over and say he's ready to go back in there and do the job."
  Gratz trailed, 44-40, when Wallace returned. After Brian Earl answered Shawn Smith's two-pointer with his fifth "three," Shawnee was up by five.
  Lynard Stewart's follow drew the Bulldogs closer, then came the first of two monstrous defensive plays.
As Dan Earl (22 points, six assists) dribbled near midcourt, Shawn Smith, who was the tournament MVP with eight points, six assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes, forced a five-second call that was hotly disputed by Shawnee coach Joe Kessler.
  Turner, who had 14 points and seven rebounds, scored the next four points - two on a follow and two on free throws - to sandwich a missed one-and-one by Dan Earl.
  Said Kessler: "To play the nation's No. 1 team to a three-point game that goes down to the last second - that speaks well for us."


Leading Scorers . . . Game by Game
  *Tournament in Johnstown, PA
  #-Tournament in Latrobe, PA
  +-Tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC
  @-Showcase Events
Opponent Gtz Leading Scorer(s)


Phila. Jobs Corps (forfeit) 2   ---  
*Southern (MD) 71 Jamahal Redmond 14
*Roman Catholic 71 Rasheed Wallace 14
Franklin 54 Rasheed Wallace 12
@Proviso East (IL) 56 Rondell Turner 12
Olney 62 Rasheed Wallace 14
@Redemption (NY) 79 Rasheed Wallace 20
#Penn Hills (PA) 69 Rasheed Wallace 15
#Latrobe (PA) 63 Alem Watson 15
+DeMatha Catholic (MD) 46 S. Smith/Redmond 11
+Westover (GA) 66 Rasheed Wallace 20
+Shawnee (NJ) 50 Rondell Turner 14
@Lake Clifton (MD) 60 Shawn Smith 15
@Dunbar (MD) 61 Rondell Turner 12
@Reading 57 Rondell Turner 17
@St. Patrick (NJ) 56 Rasheed Wallace 19
PL Regular Season      
University City 78 Rondell Turner 19
Southern 67 Rondell Turner 16
Bartram 98 Rasheed Wallace 23
Roxborough 88 Turner/S. Smith 14
Central 90 Rasheed Wallace 18
Audenried 100 Rondell Turner 26
Ovebrook 69 Rondell Turner 12
Bok 59 Rasheed Wallace 16
Parkway 78 Rondell Turner 18
King 90 Rasheed Wallace 18
West Phila. 60 Rasheed Wallace 22
PL Playoffs      
Furness 86 Rondell Turner 23
Strawberry Mansion 78 Rondell Turner 18
Olney 64 Rasheed Wallace 23
Franklin Learning Ctr. 63 Rasheed Wallace 16
Daily News All-City
First Team -- *Rasheed Wallace
  Second Team -- Rondell Turner, Shawn "Reds" Smith
  *-Player of the Year.
Daily Nrws All-Public
  First Team --
Rasheed Wallace, Rondell Turner
  Second Team --
Shawn "Reds" Smith
  Third Team -- Jamahal Redmond
  Fourth Team -- Lynard Stewart, Terrell Stokes
Coaches All-Public
  First Team -- Rasheed Wallace, Rondell Turner, Shawn "Reds" Smith
  Second Team-- Jamahal Redmond


   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 . . .

At Gratz
Gratz 86, Furness 42
  Rondell Turner scored 23 points and Rasheed Wallace grabbed 16 rebounds. Warren Chance (15) paced Furness.
At Gratz
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.