Philadelphia High School Basketball

A Look at the Best Season in Philly History . . .
Overbrook Stormed to a 34-0 Record in 1979-80

  This page includes stories, special lists, record breakdown and recaps of postseason games.

   To provide additions/ Thanks!
   Thanks to Tom Taylor for his help.

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Official Team Photo


Coach Mark "Max" Levin


  *Showcase Event
  #Benedictine Tourney (VA)
  ^Eastern States Tourney (NJ)
  ^Eastern States Tour.  part 2 (NJ)
Ovb. Opponent Opp.
53 O'Hara 41
69 Edison 57
63 West Catholic 46
69 Dobbins 41
55 Carroll 44
87 *Alex. Hamilton (NY) 63
69 University City 37
73 #Msgr. Farrell (NY) 43
79 #Card. Gibbons (MD) 61
73 #Fordham Prep (NY) 58
74 ^Orange (NJ) 59
47 ^Neptune (NJ) 45
68 Abington 54
67 %South River (NJ) 64
48 %OL of the Valley (NJ) 36
60 *Altoona 59
  PL Regular Season  
61 Lincoln 39
73 Northeast 58
69 Washington 42
69 Frankford 57
56 Olney 44
77 Roxborough 50
73 Germantown 51
63 Gratz 54
48 Central 23
74 King 47
68 West Phila. 67
83 Bartram 62
63 Bok 47
74 Southern 68
  PL Playoffs  
69 University City 63
77 Southern 52
72 Franklin 61
  City Title  
65 Roman (OT) 56


1979-80 Overbrook
Tribute Page . . . 34-0, Best
Record in Philly History

  One season after setting the Philadelphia city leagues record for most wins while going 34-1, Overbrook High, coached by Mark "Max" Levin, stormed through a 34-0 campaign. That remains the best record in Public/Catholic/Inter-Ac history. As in every season, the game vs. archrival West Philadelphia was the most "important." Below is that story . . .

By Ted Silary
  First, there was the red in Tony Costner's eyes, which was there all day and
served to drive home the point that, when provided the proper opponent and
moment, the fires can burn within.
  There was also the red, as in blood, which spurted from a cut above Tony
Costner's right eye in the first minute of the fourth quarter, the result of an excuse-me elbow unleashed by Gregory Brandon, who scored on a layup.
  Ultimately, there was almost a sea of red faces for Tony Costner and his
Overbrook High teammates who pulled together at just the right time yesterday to trim West Philadelphia, 68-67, thus negating a mini-collapse.
  Judging by past performances, we should have known that no game between
'Brook and West for the pride of Public League Division D could ever end with a point spread anything close to comfortable, even if one of the teams was forced to dribble and shoot from wheelchairs.
  But with 2:35 to go in the annual spectacle before an overflow throng of 1,200 at 59th St. and Lancaster Ave., the Panthers were ahead, 63-56, and threatening to do the unthinkable. The same was true at 0:57, as Steve Black cruised inside for a three-point play and padded the lead to 66-58.
  At that moment, a portion of fans - admittedly small - at both ends of the gym
started to stream for the exits, with those from the 'Brook (24-0, 11-0) waving their pompoms high and those from west (16-5, 10-1) stuffing same inside their coats.
  Fools. Fools. All of 'em fools.
  "It is amazing," said West's Joe Goldenberg, who appeared to have the coaching time of his life. "Whenever these teams get together, it always comes down to a couple of seconds and a little heroics here and there.
  "It was an outstanding effort on the part of our guys, plus i have nothing but respect and admiration for the Overbrook people. This is the way that Overbrook and West Philly should be . . . And have been for as long as I remember."
  The heart-in-throat conclusion - a missed heave by Speedboys' sub Kenyatta
Bey from just inside halfcourt at 0:01 - resulted as much from Overbrook's mistakes as the super effort by West.
  Even before Black's three-point play, they had blown three one-and- ones in the quarter and would proceed to blow three more as West crept back into contention on a jumper by Jerry Moore, a three-point play by Brandon and the conversion of a one-and-one by Brandon at 0:18.
  As you can imagine, the ball barely entered the playing area before West found what it thought was another pigeon. This time, however, Costner sank one of two from the line at 0:16 and Moore, who cemented his position as one of the city's finer players all game, nailed a jumper at 0:11 to tie at 67.
  Now, here's where two small goofs come into the picture. First, Goldenberg had exhausted his supply of timeouts and West was unable to stop the clock.
  Second, Moore was under the impression that his team was still behind and as
Black used precious ticks to dribble in the frontcourt, Jerry mugged him and referee Jimmy Huggard signaled a two-shot foul.
  At 0:04, Black swished the first shot and flubbed the second. The rebound went to Eric Smith, who started the year as West's scorekeeper, then his outlet pass went to Bey. The shot kicked off the right side of the rim . . . Barely.
  . . . continued right below . . . 


  "How much were we up, seven or eight when that stuff started?" asked Overbrook coach Mark (Max) Levin. "That (foul hooting) is the name of the game and we do practice it, but with everyone yelling and screaming, i would Imagine that is a hard thing for a kid.
  "Not hitting the one-and-ones made the game a lot closer than it had to be. We didn't shoot fouls the whole quarter and that makes things so much harder. West had to foul, so we sure weren't surprised by the strategy. And we compounded it by letting them come down and score."
  Until the foul shooting went south, the day had belonged to the 6-10 Costner -- as the biggest ones always seem to do. Big Tone shot 13-for-26 and 4-for-10 for 30 points, swept 20 rebounds, blocked 6 shots and distributed 3 assists.
  He had all 13 of Overbrook's points in the second quarter.
  "We were kind of hoping they would not go to Costner very much, but we kind of figured they would," Goldenberg joked. "When he wants the ball and they want to give it to him, who's going to stop him?"
  The answer is only Big Tone himself. If Costner had shown up with his familiar cottony touch, the game would have been a blowout. As it was, he had to crash the boards for nine offensive rebounds, many off his own misses.
  The times that Costner caught the ball low and scored right away, Terry Carter (8 assists) was often the guy who had
given it to him.
  For three seasons, the line on Costner has been: does not play hard when the other team's soft.
  "Defensively, I'd say that's not correct. I'm always involved on defense," Big Tone crowed. "Offensively, maybe so. I have a whole squad of offensive players. They all can score. In the first half, however, the guys were off and i was the one who had to keep us in the game.
  "But then, the other guys came around (Black and Darryl Brown each tallied 13; John Bryant posted 8 points, 12 boards and 5 assists). That helped the team and it helped me. I could catch a little rest, then turn it back on in."
  The stretch. The blood? Ah, blood doesn't mean anything. You can get that in the hospital.
  "A game like this, you are pumped up from the start. For some teams, you can't build up that momentum like you'd like to. I do the same things each game, it's just that the emotion isn't always there."
  For 'Brook vs. West, of course, the emotion begins to build the minute that the players awaken that morning. Even before, for that matter.
  "For the past couple of weeks," Costner said, "I'd been hearing from everybody that West was gonna beat the 'Brook.
Then the game starts and people holler and call me nasty names. You know what? In the long run, all those people can do is congratulate me. I'll see 'em in the street and they'll all be goodie-goodie. I can hear it now, 'Good game, Tone. Good game, Tone.' '"
  This time, at least, great game would have been more like it for Tony Costner.
  For the 'Brook-West classics, meanwhile, that phrase is always in vogue.


Scoring in Public League Games PL Qtr Semi Final CT Total
Games and Playoffs Scored Points U. City Southern Franklin Roman Points
Tony "Big Tone" Costner 14 286 26 21 26 23 382
Darryl "World" Brown 13 202 15 22 15 14 268
Steve Black 13 179 23 12 13 10 237
John Bryant 12 122 5 12 10 10 159
Terry Carter 11 47   6 7   60
Charlie Brown 12 49   2 1 3 55
William "Vernon" Hardwick 7 26   2   5 28
David Lacy 8 22         22
Eric Lewis 4 10         15
Quadii McMillan 3 7         7
Peter Scarborough 1 1         1
Harrod Clay 0 0         0
Greg Kelly 0 0         0
  14 951 69 77 72 65 1234


  This story was written after Overbrook defeated Ben Franklin to capture the Public League championship.

By Ted Silary

  Scratch that buzzer to conclude the warm ups and player introductions. What was needed the most on Saturday to start the proceeding was a sun rise from one side of the Palestra and a rooster to cackle from the other.
  If there was ever an underdog in the Public League basketball final that would seemingly face a day's worth of work stretching from dawn past dusk, it was Ben Franklin High.
 With a back line featuring 6-4 Phillip Burton, 6-3 George Dennis and 6-1 Brent Colbert, it was figured even before the tap that the Electrons would cancel out the presence of 6-10 Tony Costner, Overbrook's redwood, only with the help of a 5 a.m. wakeup call and a gift of 10 to 15 axes.
  So, once the Electrons awoke, what they did was chop, and chop and chop it all some more. In fact, they eased so quickly into the habit of taking their swipes at everything in sight - not just Costner - dull discarded blades and
shattered handles soon were everywhere.
  By the end of the game, not only had Dennis, Colbert, guard Earl Hightower and sub center Vic Alexander been banished to the bench because of fouls, but point guard Kevin (Mug) Brown was right on their heels with four plus two of the five remaining players on Ken Hamilton's roster had been saddled with three.
  Though Franklin handled The 'Brook in field goals, 26-23, and rebounds, 46-41, it lost the only battle of math that really mattered, 72-61.  
  "This was a money game," said Costner, who totaled 26 points and 14 boards. "I was hoping my teammates would throw it into me early because I wanted to assert myself.
  "Maybe they thought if they knocked me around, I would get angry and foul them right back. A couple of times, I did get kind of angry, like on my second foul. I did 'bow that guy.
  "But, hey, the bottom line was this: I got three fouls in the first half and I still had my three at the end.
Franklin had loot half its team."
  But not its pride. Despite the incredible foul problems, which ate away like a cancer, Franklin still had the chance to sneak off with a win with as little as five minutes remaining, thank a jumper by Anthony Abson. However, Overbrook took 18 of the next 24 points to expand the lead to 72-57.
  "You guys all downplayed Franklin," said Overbrook Coach Mark (Max) Levin, who sports a 66-1 record over the last two seasons. "Nobody thought they were going to win. Hey, I'm not a bullbleeper. Those kids know how to play the game.
  "Coming in, we wanted to do three things - stop them on the boards, beat their press, get it to Big Tone and work from there when he had to set it up. For the most part, the kids did what I asked them to do."
  Nothing new there. All year, this team has surprised observers by winning game after game against a schedule that was every bit as hard (except maybe the lack of a Johnstown Tournament appearance) as the one tackled by the 1979 squad that went 34-1 and finished No. 2 in the nation.
  Thing is, Steve Black is not Joe Washington, John Bryant is not Richard Congo, Terry Carter - or emergency replacement William (Vernon) Hardwick - is not Rick Tucker and in the joust between Darryl Brown and Jeff Tucker, whatever edge the former has in shooting was negated by the latter's rebounding and shot-blocking skills.
  Now, if we agree that three starters on this year's team are not quite as good as the men they replaced, how the heck does 'Brook own a second straight Public League championship and a record (33-0) that is still unblemished?
  Part of the answer, of course, is Costner, who has handled a shift in his role from one of five to big cheese with much ease.
  "We hustle just as much as last year's team. And our desire is just as great," said Bryant. "That helps a lot. Plus, we've got a new Big Tone in the middle. I used to sit on that bench last season and think ahead to this
season, hoping we would be able to do it again. Now, as long as we win the City Championship, the match will be complete.
  "Right about now, we should be compared with last year's team. I'd say we're as good, Not better, though. "
  Costner, for what it's worth till the results are in on Thursday's 8 p.m. bout with Roman, begs to differ.
  "I still say we're not as good as last year's team," he said. "That offense we had was unbelievable. But maybe if we win that one last game, I'll be forced to change my mind. All season, we've been determined not to let anyone
beat us, no matter who they have on their team or where we play 'em. So far, it worked."
  The Panthers/Hilltoppers went on to win the City Title over Roman Catholic, 65-56, in overtime. That story can be found on this page.


  *Showcase Event
  #Benedictine Tourney (VA)
  ^Eastern States Tourney (NJ)
  ^Eastern States Tour.  part 2 (NJ)


Leading Scorer Pts
O'Hara 53 Tony Costner 17
Edison 69 Tony Costner 27
West Catholic 63 Darryl Brown 20
Dobbins 69 Steve Black 21
Carroll 55 Darryl Brown 14
*Alex. Hamilton (NY) 87 Tony Costner 23
University City 69 Tony Costner 30
#Msgr. Farrell (NY) 73 Tony Costner 17
#Card. Gibbons (MD) 79 Darryl Brown 21
#Fordham Prep (NY) 73 Tony Costner 29
^Orange (NJ) 74 Steve Black 25
^Neptune (NJ) 47 Tony Costner 21
Abington 68 Costner/Brown 22
%South River (NJ) 67 Steve Black 25
%OL of the Valley (NJ) 48 Tony Costner 28
*Altoona 60 Tony Costner 17
PL Regular Season      
Lincoln 61 Tony Costner 32
Northeast 73 Tony Costner 25
Washington 69 Darryl Brown 18
Frankford 69 Tony Costner 21
Olney 56 Tony Costner 18
Roxborough 77 Darryl Brown 23
Germantown 73 Tony Costner 23
Gratz 63 Tony Costner 19
Central 48 Costner/Brown 12
King 74 Steve Black 21
West Phila. 68 Tony Costner 30
Bartram 83 Costner/Brown 16
Bok 63 Costner/Black 18
Southern 74 Darryl Brown 26
PL Playoffs      
University City 69 Tony Costner 26
Southern 77 Darryl Brown 22
Franklin 72 Tony Costner 26
City Title      
Roman 65 Tony Costner 23

  Steve Black snags a rebound in game vs. Southern
                                             Photo by Denis O'Keefe

Daily News All-City
First Team -- *Tony Costner.
  Third Team -- Steve Black.
  *-Co-Player of the Year with Roman Catholic's
Lonnie McFarlan.
Daily Nrws All-Public
First Team -- Tony Costner
  Second Team -- Steve Black.
  Third Team -- Darryl Brown.
Coaches All-Public
First Team -- Tony Costner, Steve Black.


Recaps of Public League playoffs, City Title . . .

At Overbrook
Overbrook 69, University City 63
  Tony Costner shot 11-for-16 for 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Steve Black added 21 points and Terry Carter notched seven assists while attempting no shots from the floor. UC’s scoring leaders were Ray “Ice” Arrington (20) and Jerome Broadus (18).
At the Palestra
Overbrook 77, Southern 62
  Tony Costner (21 points, 18 rebounds), Darryl “World” Brown (20, 12) and John Bryant (14, 13) were heavy contributors. ’Brook expanded a 30-28 halftime lead by scoring the next 19 points. For Southern, Dallas Philson had 23 points and Mark Tarboro had 16 points, 16 rebounds.
At the Palestra
Overbrook 72, Franklin 61
Tony Costner had 26 points and 14 rebounds for 'Brook (34-0), which set the city record for the highest number of wins in a perfect season. Darryl "World" Brown (15 points) and Steve Black (13) helped out. For Franklin, Earl Hightower (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Phil Burton (15, 12) did well inside and Kevin "Mug" Brown had 11 assists.

At the Palestra
Overbrook 65, Roman 56 (OT)
Overbrook put the finishing touches on a 34-0 season -- the best record in city-leagues history -- as Tony Costner collected 23 points and 15 rebounds, Darryl "World" Brown added 14 points and five assists and John Bryant (12 rebounds) and Steve Black split 20 points. Costner scored eight points in a 15-6 overtime session. With 0:11 left in regulation, Roman's Randy Monroe went to the line for a one-and-one. He hit the first shot to create a 50-50 tie, but then missed the second. William "Vernon" Hardwick (jumper) and Costner (tap) missed shots for 'Brook to make necessary the first OT session in the series since 1943. Gerald Roberts (21) and Lonnie McFarlan (18) led Roman in scoring while Monroe (14) and McFarlan (13) were tops in rebounds.