Philadelphia High School Basketball

North Heads in the Right Direction Just in Time . . .

  In 1987, a Catholic League championship seemed to be highly unlikely for North Catholic after
the first 20 games of the season. The Falcons were 9-11 overall and 6-5 in the Catholic League
Northern Division. Then? . . . Coach Joe Rapczynski's club won five straight to finish division
play and swept through the three-game playoffs to win the school's first crown since 1967!
  (The final loss occurred in a showcase game vs. Dobbins.)
  NOTE: In the Falcons' opener, vs. Gratz, on Dec. 1, NC sub Marty O'Donnell became the first
player in city history to hit a three-point shot. A nugget about that accomplishment can be found
at the bottom of this page.

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Jim Schultice (55) contests a
pass in title game vs. Roman.

Dave Heineman (11) and Tim Comey celebrate
the semifinal win over Bishop Kenrick.

Coach Joe Rapczynski

  Losses in Italics  
49 Gratz 63
64 Neumann 61
64 SJ Prep 55
58 Frankford 62
69 West Catholic 71
56 Mastbaum 63
62 Arch Curley (MD) 55
59 *Wildwood Cath. (NJ0 61
41 *Lower Cape May 46
60 #Dobbins 73
#-Showcase Event After Playoffs
  CL North  
60 Kenrick 61
57 Ryan 61
59 Wood 47
65 Egan 51
35 Judge 34
52 La Salle 59
57 Dougherty 64
64 McDevitt 46
51 Kenrick 49
45 Ryan 38
59 Wood 61
80 Egan 55
53 Judge 43
57 La Salle 55
79 Dougherty 57
60 McDevitt 58
  CL Playoffs  
49 Ryan 44
56 Kenrick 54
63 Roman 59
  Joe Rapczynski  
  11-5, 17-12  
  Jim Schultice  
  Kevin Comey  
  Dave Mastropietro  
  Eric Banks  
  Tim Comey  
  Key Subs  
  John Martin  
  Dave Heineman  
  Bill Pancoast  
Daily News All-Catholic
SECOND TEAM: Jim Schultice
THIRD TEAM: Kevin Comey
Coaches All-Catholic
FIRST TEAM: Jim Schultice
FIRST TEAM: Kevin Comey
THIRD TEAM: Dave Mastropietro


North Catholic's 1987 Catholic League
Basketball Champions . . .

This story was written after the Falcons broke a 20-year drought by edging Roman Catholic, 63-59, for the Catholic League championship . . .

By Ted Silary
  Jim Schultice learned this past weekend that numbness can be found in two distinct varieties - frightening and euphoric.
  For a while there, he was worried that ne'er the twain would be linked.
  Schultice's euphoric numbness came yesterday, when North Catholic stunned Roman Catholic, 63-59, for the Catholic League championship at Villanova's duPont Pavilion, registering one of the final's more monumental upsets.
  Schultice's frightening numbness came Friday night, when the Falcons disposed of Bishop Kenrick, 56-54, in the Northern Division final.
  North coach Joe Rapczynski first caused curiosity by keeping the dressing room closed for five minutes after the game. As the media entered, he heightened it by chasing all of the players into a smaller room that led to the showers.
  All of the players save Schultice. The 6-4, 240-pound junior center, who had fallen hard to the floor and injured his back after blocking a third- quarter shot, was going nowhere, except perhaps to a hospital.
  "Please, clear out! " Rapczynski was shouting. "He needs air. "
  Actually, Schultice needed to hear that his legs were OK.
  "They felt funny for about the last two minutes. Then, in the locker room, I lost feeling completely," Schultice said. "It was scary. I didn't know what was happening.
"It was because of the muscle spasms in my back. The feeling came back when a couple of doctors were checking me here (duPont), and then I asked Mr. Rogers
(Jim Rogers, of Temple's Sports Medicine Center) how to get ready for Sunday. "
  The answer: lots of ice. As in, three or four bags.
  "I stayed up until 2 or 2:30, icing myself," Schultice said. "Half hour on, half hour off. I looked like a giant icebag. It wasn't just my back that was messed up. My elbow and hip were hurting, too. I passed the time talking with my girlfriend on the phone. That kept me awake.
  "I was definitely playing. No doubts. I was at school this morning between 8 and 9, putting ice on my back, taking whirlpools. "
  By the end of the game, in which the Falcons (17-11) won their first championship since 1967, in their first final appearance since 1972, Roman's players were experiencing a severe case of vertigo, as if they'd been watching water swirl out of a whirlpool for weeks.
  North's performance was that dizzying.
  Led by Schultice, who collected 19 points and 12 rebounds, and 6-3 senior forward Dave Mastropietro, whose numbers in the same categories were 21 and 11, North played inspired ball throughout.
  If the Falcons were the least bit fearful of Roman (23-5), which is undeniably blessed with more talent, the feeling disappeared with the opening tip. In fact, the posture they maintained seemed to say, "We're here to win, not just have fun. Try to keep us from doing it. "
  One specific play in the game's 32 entertaining minutes brilliantly illustrated the point. With 4:27 left, Schultice handed North a 55-52 lead by knocking down his fourth shot on the same possession - an 8-footer and three follows.
  In part, Schultice's man-possessed approach to the game could be traced to small forward Eric Banks, a senior and North's only black player.
  Banks, who lives near 21st Street and Allegheny Avenue, is acquainted with numerous Roman players. When they talked, he listened.
  "Eric said the Roman guys were saying they were going to kill us," Schultice related. "He said they told him, 'The fat white guy is no good. We can stop him easy. ' When Eric told me that, it gave me more of a push. "
  "There was a little bit of both in there - the Roman guys saying stuff and me saying they said stuff," Banks said, smiling. "They didn't say anything bad about 'Schultzie. ' That was my way of getting into his head. He was down after Friday's game. I had to make sure he was ready. "
  Rapczynski's way of getting the entire team ready was to talk about perceptions and opportunity.
  Rapczynski on Saturday night had the team to his home for a spaghetti dinner. Also part of the evening's program was a tape-watching session, a trip to Mass and chitchat.
Trouble was, the phone kept ringing.
  "Almost everyone was saying, 'Great job this year. No matter what happens tomorrow, don't worry about it,' " Rapczynski said. "Here today, it was the same thing. People would tap me on the shoulder and say, 'Don't worry about today. You've done a great job. '
  "So, when I talked to the players before the game, I told them, 'What almost everyone sees as a consolation prize, shrewd people see as an opportunity. ' And I said, 'It doesn't matter what everyone else sees. What matters is what you and the people close to you see. '
  "People were saying we didn't have anything to lose. The way I saw it, we did have something to lose. We could have lost the opportunity to say to everyone, 'Look. You said we were going to lose. And we won. ' How many times do you get an opportunity like that? "
 continued right below . . . 

   "Everybody was saying, 'You can't win,' " said Mastropietro, who first experienced a CL championship last spring, as North's rightfielder in baseball. Senior guard Kevin Comey also started on that team, at shortstop. ''Who? I don't know. People. Everywhere. The world. "  North established itself immediately, spurting to leads of 7-2 and 14-6. When a fastbreak basket by senior guard Clayton "Stink" Adams gave Roman a 27-27 tie 3:49 before halftime, North held its composure and surged ahead, 34-29.
  With three minutes left in the third quarter, a three-point shot by senior guard Eugene Smith and Adams's pull-up, in-the-lane jumper put Roman ahead, 42-38. But
Schultice didn't wait to see if his teammates were teetering. He bulled to the basket for another three-point play and North would lead by 49-44 at the end of the quarter.
  "Two things were key," Rapczynski said. "We couldn't let Roman jump on us in the first four minutes and we couldn't ever let them run off 12, 14 or 16 points in a row.
"We used all of our defenses - 1-3-1, 2-3, 3-2, man-to-man, combination, triangle-and-two, box-and-one, three presses. We felt we had to constantly change to keep them off stride. "   Ultimately, a controversial foul and a mix-up that prevented a three-point basket helped contribute to Roman's defeat.
  With North ahead, 59-57, and 23 seconds left, Adams stripped Kevin Comey in front of Roman's bench and would have been off to the races for a layup had a foul not been called. When it was, Roman's coaches and substitutes exploded in protest.
  Kevin Comey converted the one-and-one to make it 61-57, but Roman's push upcourt resulted in a three-point field goal for Smith at 0:19. Oh, no it didn't. Adams had signaled for time beforehand, but the whistle of referee Jim Barker (doing his last game after 24 years in the league) was not immediately heard by the players.
  "We wanted to score, then call time out," said Roman coach Dennis Seddon, a 1967 North graduate. "I guess there was confusion on Stink's part. "
  When asked about Adams's would-be steal, Seddon said: "I'm not allowed to comment on the officials . . . I would rather approach it with the attitude that North played hard and deserved to win. They got every loose ball, every rebound. When big plays needed to be made, they made them. "
  The last came at 0:03, when Tim Comey, Kevin's brother and a junior guard, converted a one-and-one.
  "When I saw Roman play Bonner (in a South semifinal), I said to myself, 'They're beatable,' " Mastropietro noted.
  "Everybody on the team thought we could beat them," Schultice said. "We knew we could beat them. "
J  im Schultice will tell you, euphoric numbness is the only way to fly.
  TITLE TIDBITS: Saturday's matchups at Philadelphia Textile in the first Brotherly Love Classic will be Central-Archbishop Carroll at 1 p.m., North and Murrell Dobbins Tech at 3 p.m. . . . The 1976 title game featured an upset of close to the same proportions, as Bishop Kenrick (second in the North) pinned a 64-54 defeat on West Catholic, which featured 6-6 All-America Michael Brooks and had gone 14-0 in the South . . . North (11-5) tied for second in the North, while Roman was first (13-1) in the South . . . A classic non-final shocker came in 1981, when St. James, which finished 7-7 to earn a playoff spot for the first time since 1960, beat a 14-0 Roman team, 58-56, in overtime. It was Bill "Speedy" Morris's last league game as Roman's coach.
Roman and North met in the '69 final, with Roman winning, 66-54. Joe Rapczynski, then a North junior, had four points and three rebounds as a frontcourt sub. The Falcons lost the final to Cardinal Dougherty in '70 (then, inter-division matchups took place in the semis) and to now-defunct St. Thomas More in '72 . . . Dennis Seddon: "We burned a lot of emotion Friday night (South final victory over Archbishop Carroll). We knew it was going to be hard to get back up." . . . Kevin Comey is Seddon's paperboy. ''Now," Seddon said, "maybe I'll get my paper on time again."


Non-League NC Leading Scorer(s)


Gratz 49 Kevin Comey 15
Neumann 64 Kevin Comey/Jim Schultice/John Martin 15
SJ Prep 64 Kevin Comey 18
Frankford 58 Kevin Comey 15
West Catholic 69 Kevin Comey 18
Mastbaum 56 Dave Mastropietro 14
Arch Curley (MD) 62 Eric Banks/Jim Schultice 19
Wildwood Cath. (NJ0 59 Jim Schultice 19
Lower Cape May 41 Kevin Comey 13
Dobbins 60 Jim Schultice 14
CL North      
Kenrick 60 John Martin 15
Ryan 57 Kevin Comey 14
Wood 59 Kevin Comey 19
Egan 65 Dave Mastropietro 22
Judge 35 Eric Banks  10
La Salle 52 Dave Mastropietro 13
Dougherty 57 Kevin Comey 14
McDevitt 64 Jim Schultice 16
Kenrick 51 Kevin Comey 15
Ryan 45 Kevin Comey 15
Wood 59 Kevin Comey/Jim Schultice 15
Egan 80 Dave Mastropietro 23
Judge 53 Kevin Comey 15
La Salle 57 Jim Schultice 27
Dougherty 79 Jim Schultice 24
McDevitt 60 Kevin Comey 18
CL Playoffs      
Ryan 49 Jim Schultice 16
Kenrick 56 Kevin Comey/Dave Mastropietro 13
Roman 63 Dave Mastropietro 21


  This story was written after the Falcons won the CL semifinal . . .

By Ted Silary
  Could it be that "The Power of Positive Thinking" was authored by Joe Rapczynski, and that Norman Vincent Peale is his pen name?
  Last night, one had to wonder.
  The reason was, when Bishop Kenrick coach Tom Kehoe - attempting to ice North Catholic junior guard Tim Comey - called time with six seconds remaining at Villanova's duPont Pavilion in the Catholic North final, nary a discouraging word was heard from Peale . . . er, Rapczynski.
  "Coach said, 'When we make these foul shots . . . ' " Comey said. "Yeah, when. Not if. That showed he had confidence in me. "
  In those situations, Rapczynski acts as if he has confidence in everybody and his cousin. It's part of his personal coaching manual.
  "I have a philosophy about foul shooting in clutch situations," he said. ''I always say, 'When we make the foul shots, here's what we do. ' I never coach a miss. "
  As Comey finally stepped to the line, North and Kenrick were locked in a 54-54 tie. When he backpedaled upcourt, the Falcons were on the verge of a 56-54 win and their first trip to the league final since 1972. Verge became fact when "Fast" Eddie Hull was long with a pressured, off-balance shot.
  Comey's shot No. 1, meanwhile, hit the back of the rim, kicked up front and dropped in. No. 2 was perfect.
  "I took a couple of deep breaths, thought to myself, 'All net . . . All net,' and shot," Comey said. "The first one kind of curled in, but when I let the second one go, I knew it was going in (clean) for sure. "
  Tim Comey, whose brother, Kevin, a senior, also starts at guard, was an unlikely hero candidate when forward Dave Mastropietro inbounded in front of North's bench with 0:10 left. That, after Kenrick's Justin Dougherty had spun down the lane for a basket at 0:22.
  "Timmy was at least a third option," Rapczynski said.
  The preference would have been a lob inside to junior center Jim Schultice. K. Comey was next in the pecking order, either to look for Schultice or to create something involving the weak side.
  "When Kevin passed to Timmy, Timmy created something pretty good himself," Rapczynski said.
  "I was thinking of getting it inside to Schultzie (Schultice) or Dave (Mastropietro)," T. Comey said, "but when they saw that I had a one-on- one situation, they cleared some room. He (Jimmy Davis) tried to block the shot from behind. He reached over top and hit me on the arm. "
  "I was pretty much confident he was going to make them," K. Comey said. ''He was making his foul shots through the game (6-for-7 to that point). During the timeout, I think he wanted to hear encouragement, to a certain point. "
  So . . .
  Said Tim: "Kevin was telling me, 'It's all you. This is what you've been working for all year. Go do it. ' "
  Although baskets by 6-2 junior Eddie Scott (10-for-15, 6-for-6, 26 points) and Hull gave Kenrick a 39-34 lead with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter, North rebounded for three field goals, including a buzzer-beating knuckleball by small forward Eric Banks.
  Schultice injured his lower back during that span, and the Falcons were incensed because they perceived that a Kenrick player had purposely tread on Schultice when he was stretched flat out in the lane.
  Schultice returned 5:05 from game's end to contribute four key points.


        Qtr Semi Final
1986-87  GS Pts PPG Ryan Kenrick Final
Kevin Comey 16 233 14.6 9 13 8
Jim Schultice 16 191 11.9 16 6 19
Dave Mastropietro 16 165 10.3 8 13 21
Eric Banks 16 107 6.7 10 12 6
John Martin 14 107 7.6 2   4
Tim Comey 12 53 4.4 4 12 5
Dave Heineman 12 46 3.8      
Bill Pancoast 7 19 2.7      
Marc Alicea 2 8 4.0      
Sean Coary 1 2 2.0      
 GS=Games Scored 16 931 58.2 49 56 63


  This story was written after the Falcons closed the regular season with their fifth consecutive victory . . .

By Ted Silary
  Starting today, gymnasiums are eminently available for foul-weather baseball workouts at nine of the 17 Catholic League schools.
  North Catholic's shrine of a gym, better known as The Pit, is not one of them.
  Some star baseball players doubling as journeymen basketball players might view the extension of hoops season with mixed emotions.
  But to North's Dave Mastropietro, a highly talented rightfielder, having to play at least one more week of basketball ranks nowhere nearly as high on his personal Painful Experiences Scale as, say, having to absorb a 95 mph fastball between the shoulder blades.
  "I talked to the (baseball) coaches of Penn and Villanova," Mastropietro said yesterday. "They both asked me to come out to the campus to see if I like it, but I haven't had the time. I'm too into basketball. It would be hard to leave school early someday, then get back in time for practice.
  "Aside from Penn and Villanova, I've gotten letters from Columbia, Johns Hopkins . . . a couple others. I'm not sure, really. I just put them away. I'll think about baseball after basketball. "
  Thanks largely to Mastropietro's 13 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and the blanket he wrapped around 6-6 junior John O'Connell in the second half, the Falcons scrapped for a 60-58 victory at Bishop McDevitt yesterday.
  North thus finished in a tie with Archbishop Ryan (both 11-5) for second place in the Catholic North, while unceremoniously interring McDevitt (9-7).
  We should have known. Though all kinds of ties were possible, and even seemed likely, heading into the weekend, preplayoffs are now unnecessary. Next Sunday's division semifinals at Villanova duPont Pavilion will feature North and Ryan at 1, then Cardinal Dougherty (12-4) and Bishop Kenrick (10-6) at 2:30 (more like 3, probably).
  "My father (Joe) and I would sit around, talking about the possibilities," Mastropietro said, smiling. "How there could be a four-way tie for second, a three-way tie for fourth. After about 30 minutes, he'd say, 'Forget it. If you win your games, you'll be in. The rest of it won't matter. ' "
  Mastropietro, who is 6-3 and solidly built, possesses three of the coveted baseball tools - he can hit, hit for power and throw. Runningwise, he's not a jet, but he's not a turtle, either.
  Because of their first-place regular-season finish last year, the Falcons needed only two playoff wins to take the CL baseball title. Mastropietro crammed about two weeks into the two games, going 5-for-7 with 6 RBI, a triple and 2 homers.
  "As far as Dave hits a home run is as far as he can go in baseball," said basketball coach Joe Rapczynski. "He's a tremendous athlete in general. "
  Not to make him sound like a Boy Scout, but "Mastro" also is intelligent (he ranks 30th out of almost 400 seniors and has scored 1,020 in the Scholastic Aptitude Test), team-oriented and loyal.
  "After we lost to Wood (Feb. 8) and our record was 6-5," Rapczynski said, ''there might have been a tendency for a kid with a bright baseball future to say, 'Oh, well. I can't wait until they start getting the sacks out and I can get back on the diamond. '
  "But Dave came and saw me and he told me how important it was for him, Eric Banks and Kevin Comey to win this year, because they were seniors. That said a lot about Dave Mastropietro. "
  At halftime, Mastropietro was saying a lot of things to himself, mostly under his breath.
  O'Connell had shot 6-for-6 and 3-for-3 for 15 points as McDevitt stayed within 28-27. But foul troubles limited O'Connell to 10 minutes in the second half. His only two shots in the half came on tips, and neither connected.
  Forward Silas Blanchard, who followed Thursday's 26-point, 18-rebound showing against La Salle with 25 points (9-for-10, 7-for-9) and 15 boards, played like a man possessed for McDevitt, but when the league's top underclassmen completely vanishes, it has to count for something.
  "We used a lot of defenses in the first half, but still, O'Connell was basically my responsibility," Mastropietro said. "I pride myself on defense, and here a guy's got 15 against me. I was down on myself.
  "I'm not the type to beat someone up on defense. I just played him tougher. 'Schultzie' (Jim Schultice) was having trouble stopping Blanchard because of foul trouble, so I tried to make sure O'Connell wouldn't hurt us. "
  With 2:26 left, the first day of March turned into the 25th day of December for Mastropietro.
  McDevitt guard John Richardson gained possession of a loose ball under North's basket, but did so while perched on his butt in the lane. Richardson flipped the ball, trying to avoid a jump-ball situation, but Mastropietro happened to catch it in position for an easy layup, and a 56-52 lead.
  When Dave Heineman missed a one-and-one at 0:40, Mastropietro swept the offensive board and North was able to waste 10 more seconds before Schultice had to shoot a one-and-one, which he converted for a 60-54 lead.
  "The personality of our team is basically quiet, and Dave is one who leads by example," Rapczynski said. "He lets his actions speak for themselves.
  "When Dave does something, it lifts the whole team. If the other 10 or 11 guys on this team run down the other end and score a layup, it's two points. When Dave does it, it seems like it's six or eight points. He's got a positive, infectious attitude. "
  Better yet, Dave Mastropietro doesn't mind waiting to recatch the infection called Baseball Fever.

  Recaps of Playoff Games . . .

At Villanova Pavilion
North 49, Ryan 44
  Jim Schultice (16) and Eric Banks (10) led in scoring and Tim Comey had four assists. The Falcons scored the last six points on two free throws apiece by Kevin Comey, brother Tim and Banks. Pat Kilgarriff (13) and John Smedley (10, 11 boards) led Ryan.
At Villanova Pavilion
North 56, Kenrick 54
Tim Comey converted a one-and-one with 0:06 left to win it while Kevin Comey and Dave Mastropietro scored 13 points apiece and Jim Schultice plucked 12 rebounds. Kenrick’s Eddie Scott shot 10-for-15 and 6-for-6 for 26 points and had 10 rebounds.
At Villanova Pavilion
North 63, Roman 59

  Dave Mastropietro (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Jim Schultice (19, 12) were bulwarks inside, Kevin Comey had five assists and Tim Comey converted a one-and-one with 0:03 left as the Falcons won their first championship since 1967. Schultice showed North's resolve when he missed three shots on the same possession and then made a fourth with 4:27 left. Kevin Comey was Roman coach Dennis Seddon's paperboy. For Roman, Alan Watkins had 15 points and 10 rebounds while Clayton "Stink" Adams added 13 points, eight assists.


3-POINT FAME . . .

  Substitute guard Marty O'Donnell of North Catholic yesterday became the answer to the trivia question, "Who was the first city basketball player to hit a three-point field goal? "
  O'Donnell made his shot with 1:21 remaining in North's 53-49 non-league loss to Simon Gratz. The Falcons were 1-for-9 from three-point distance (19 feet, 9 inches).
  Guard Kevin Comey led North with 14 points. Guard Eddie Savage's 29 points topped Gratz, which attempted no three-pointers.
  Only the Catholic League has adopted the three-point shot. The rule was used yesterday because the game was played at North.