Philadelphia High School Basketball

A Look at Wilt Chamberlain's
Career at Overbrook High
... And Its Lasting Effect

  This page includes stories, special lists, Wilt's scoring breakdown, recaps of playoff
games, coaches/starters on his teams, etc..
  Wilt -- often known as "Wilt the Stilt" (hated it) and "Dippy" (loved it) -- played at
Overbrook for three seasons (1952-53 through 1954-55). In that time frame, ninth
grade was still part of junior high.
  **Thanks to Tom Taylor, who provided final scores/Wilt's individual totals.**

  Vince Miller (RIP), who coached Frankford to Public League championships in 1988
and 1989, was a key performer for Overbrook's 1955 squad and Wilt's best friend since
elementary school. He offered a story about their relationship after Wilt passed away
in 1999. Click here.

 . . .
To provide additions/ Thanks!  

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Wilt shows his wingspan in Overbrook's athletic department office.

Year-by-Year Scores

Ovb. Non-League Opp
67 South Catholic 49
68 Lawrenceville (NJ) 56
61 Germantown 52
72 Haverford School 57
68 Bok 52
  Public League  
70 Dobbins 51
88 Central 52
89 Roxborough 64
72 Franklin 77
74 Mastbaum 35
71 West Phila. 49
67 Gratz 37
55 Dobbins 43
82 Olney 22
83 Roxborough 48
80 Southern  63
63 West Phila. 55
  Public Playoffs  
73 Franklin 47
72 Lincoln 56
71 Northeast 62
  City Title  
43 West Catholic 54
82 South Catholic 70
85 St. Thomas More 43
102 Gratz 31
52 Allentown 41
  Public League  
68 Bok 45
84 Dobbins 49
55 Frankford 51
114 Roxborough 51
93 Central 48
71 West Phila. 65
91 Mastbaum 63
93 Dobbins 46
77 West Phila. 50
72 Bartram 27
84 Northeast 62
96 Roxborough 39
  Public Playoffs  
74 West Phila. 55
60 Northeast 46
  City Title  
74 South Catholic 50
94 South Catholic 38
88 St. Thomas More 54
58 Farrell 59
75 McKeesport 74
  Public League  
90 Lincoln 39
113 Dobbins 58
127 Roxborough 59
89 Gratz 22
90 Southern  63
78 West Phila. 47
93 Germantown 46
68 West Phila. 62
82 Dobbins 47
85 Olney 71
123 Roxborough 21
95 Franklin 55
  Public Playoffs  
83 Bok 46
78 West Phila. 60
  City Title  
83 West Catholic 42


A Look at Each Team . . .



Sam Cozen


11-1, 21-2


Wilt Chamberlain

Marv Cravetz

Lou Sadler

Stan Guralnick

Doug Leaman



Cecil Mosenson


12-0, 20-0


Wilt Chamberlain

Doug Leaman

Ira Davis

Mel Brodsky

Jim Sadler




Cecil Mosenson


12-0, 18-1


Wilt Chamberlain

Vince Miller

Marty Hughes

Dave Shapiro

Howard Johnson



Tribute Page

   This story was written in 1991, when Wilt returned to Overbrook to become part of the school's first sports Hall of Fame induction class.

By Ted Silary

  There are ways to make a grown man cry. Even a man who has grown to hard- to-fathom proportions.
  First, you make him walk inside his old high school for the first time in 36 years.
  Next, you place him on a stage, where he becomes one of the first four inductees into the school's athletic hall of fame.
  You announce his name forcefully, and with flair, so the students, teachers and visiting dignitaries can't help but feel the urge to let him bask in the warm glow of a standing ovation.
  Then, as he begins to speak, you watch as much as you listen.
  You look at the eyes.
  "Oh, he cried all right," said teacher Fred Rosenfeld, who formerly coached track and cross country at Overbrook High, and who gave the hall of fame idea its heaviest push. "I was sitting right next to him. His eyes were moist. When I saw him going, it got me going. That was some moment."
  Wilton Norman Chamberlain had his number 13 retired last night by the 76ers. But first, which was only proper, he returned to Overbrook, where it all began.
  The assembly program began a shade after 9 a.m. yesterday. The first three inductees to be introduced were Cliff Calvert (class of 1932), a member of Overbrook's first championship basketball team in 1931; Jackie Moore ('50), the first African-American Philadelphian to play in the NBA; and Ira Davis ('54), a three-time Olympian.
  In the orange-and-black program, Chamberlain was described as "The Greatest Basketball Player of All Time."
  His presenter, the Daily News's Phil Jasner, also an Overbrook grad, concluded his speech by saying, "I offer you a yardstick of excellence. From the class of 1955 and, literally, from the pages of history, I offer you Wilt Chamberlain!"
  Chamberlain's first words were, "Thank you is not enough. But being here is."
  Later, when he faltered briefly, he said, "I'm choked up a little bit here because my beginnings were right here at Overbrook High School . . . The three years I spent here were the best three years of my life."
  Earlier, as Chamberlain and the others had waited for the assembly to begin, Wilt had confided to Jasner that the Overbrook ceremony would excite him more than the Sixers' ceremony.
  Before the assembly finished, Vince Miller, Frankford's head basketball coach and Wilt's best friend since third grade (Marty Hughes, Howard Johnson and Dave Shapiro, the other '55 starters, also were there), said he had a presentation to make.
  The box was big and so was the present: an Overbrook basketball jacket, black with orange sleeves. There was a basketball patch on the right front (it read "City Champs '53-'54 and '54-'55") and Wilt's name, in script on the left side, with " '55" underneath. On the back: Overbrook basketball.
  "Had it made special," Miller said. "Had the guy fit me, then add four inches to the sleeves. It's a size 52. That was before I lost some weight."
  Following the assembly, there was a short press conference in the principal's office. Then a walk from the front side of the second floor to the back, the location of the library. All the while, Wilt walked with TV sportscasters, as cameramen backpedaled in front, their hot lights making The Big Fella perspire profusely.
  In the middle of Wilt's walk, the bell rang. The nearby classes emptied into the hallway. Every student wanted to touch him, shout his name, get a close look.
   Just outside the library, Sonny Hill introduced Wilt to 6-10 sophomore Rasheed Wallace, of Simon Gratz. When Hill
mentioned that he expects Wallace to become the second-best big man produced in this city, Wilt smiled and said to Wallace,
  "Ah, don't listen to that. Sonny's getting a little old on us. His mind is going.
  "Those little guys, they never want to pass us the ball anyway. They just look at us. Then, we have to get it off the board."
  Once inside the library, Wilt posed for pictures, signed autographs and subjected himself to more of the media's questions.
  Ted Wexler, now a CPA but once the team's manager, approached Wilt with Overbrook's 1955 scorebook. He opened the book to the West Catholic game, in which 'Brook captured the city title.
  "Before you sign this," Wexler said, "how many points did you score?"
  "Thirty-five," Wilt said.
  Using a black Sharpie, he then signed the book. 
  Continued right below . . .

Wilt's Percentage of Points
Scored, All Three Seasons

Ovb. Non-League Pct.
24 South Catholic 35.8
31 Lawrenceville (NJ) 45.6
19 Germantown 31.1
19 Haverford School 26.4
30 Bok 44.1
  Public League  
30 Dobbins 42.9
39 Central 44.3
29 Roxborough 32.6
32 Franklin 44.4
24 Mastbaum 32.4
41 West Phila. 47.7
18 Gratz 26.9
36 Dobbins 65.4
36 Olney 43.9
35 Roxborough 42.2
40 Southern  50.0
29 West Phila. 46.0
  Public Playoffs  
24 Franklin 32.9
35 Lincoln 48.6
34 Northeast 47.9
  City Title  
29 West Catholic 67.4
45 South Catholic 54.9
45 St. Thomas More 52.9
47 Gratz 46.1
25 Allentown 48.1
  Public League  
20 Bok 29.4
34 Dobbins 40.4
12 Frankford 21.8
71 Roxborough 62.3
44 Central 47.3
43 West Phila. 60.6
29 Mastbaum 31.9
40 Dobbins 43.0
41 West Phila. 53.2
42 Bartram 58.3
49 Northeast 58.3
28 Roxborough 29.2
  Public Playoffs  
41 West Phila. 55.4
40 Northeast 66.7
  City Title  
32 South Catholic 43.2


  N-L / Tourneys  
42 South Catholic 44.7
41 St. Thomas More 46.6
33 Farrell 56.9
46 McKeesport 61.3
  Public League  
37 Lincoln 41.1
59 Dobbins 52.2
74 Roxborough 58.3
26 Gratz 29.2
38 Southern  42.2
44 West Phila. 56.4
16 Germantown 17.2
48 West Phila. 70.6
42 Dobbins 51.2
45 Olney 53.0
90 Roxborough 73.2
47 Franklin 49.5
  Public Playoffs  
48 Bok 57.8
33 West Phila. 42.3
  City Title  
35 West Catholic 42.2





  In time, Cecil Mosenson, 'Brook's coach in Wilt's junior and senior years, summoned the courage to approach Chamberlain
and pull him aside near the back of the room. The two had a chance to speak briefly, alone, before autograph seekers again
pressed forward.
  In more than 30 years, the pair had exchanged very few words. They hadn't seen each other since 1976 at the Montreal
  "It was important that we spoke," said an obviously emotional Mosenson, ''and cleared the air about some
misunderstandings that had occurred years ago, when Wilt was in college (at Kansas).
  "It had troubled me all this time. I needed to talk to him. It's all resolved. That's all I can say. It's all resolved."
  With that, Wilt and the others were off to the old gym, where they happened to walk in on a class.
  Ignoring chants of "dunk one," Wilt picked up a rubber basketball and made a short bank shot. He then backed off as
Moore took a shot. Quickly, he embarked on a short walk around the closet-sized gym. He seemed oblivious to the students,
the cameras, everything. It was just Wilt and 1,000 memories, all flooding back at once.
  When he stopped, someone suggested he autograph the mat attached to the wall behind the basket. There was even a No. 5,
for gym-class purposes, painted on the mat. That was his high school number. Again, Wilt whipped out the Sharpie and
signed "Wilt" - with two bold lines underneath.
  No need for a last name, don't you know.
  Soon, Wilton Norman Chamberlain was heading down the school's front steps, into a waiting limo.
  It had been a morning to remember.
  "Did you see Wilt up there, near tears? " Vince Miller asked. "I know the man. This has to be one of the greatest
moments of his life."
Right below is the beginning of a story that was written in February 1955 after Wilt
torched Roxborough for 90 points . . . after scoring 71 and 74 points in earlier
games against that same opponent . . .

  By Les Ribler
Wilt (The Stilt) Chamberlain, Overbrook High School's seven-foot basketball star, yesterday erased lingering
doubt to who holds the State scholastic individual record for points scored in one game. In an almost unbelievable
performance, Wilt settled the issue by registering a record-shattering 90 points yesterday.
  The amazing 18-year-old senior paced the Hilltoppers to a 123-21 romp over Roxborough High -- their 11th
victory in an unbeaten Public Conference season -- and added a host of records to his mounting collection.
  His 90-point total broke the unofficial Stae mark of 85 set by Ray Pauley, Sinking Springs High, on Feb. 12,
1954, and surpased the district mark of 78 by Jenkintown's Stodie Watts on Feb. 1, 1955. It erased
Chamberlain's conference mark of 74 set last Jan. 15 against Roxborough.

  This story was written in 1993 after Simon Gratz, powered by Rasheed
Wallace, f inished the season with a 31-0 record . . .

  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
ccident) 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
edmond 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
  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.
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
tewart. 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
eserves 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
ore? ' 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
n 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
  "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.




Recaps of Public League Playoffs/City Titles . . .

at SJ Prep
Overbrook 73, Franklin 47
  Wilt Chamberlain scored 24 points and Stan Guralnick (20) posted the Panthers’ first eight points. Franklin had won the teams’ regular-season meeting, 76-74, before losing three stars to mid-year graduations. Devonne Muchison scored 22 points.
At the Palestra
Overbrook 72, Lincoln 56
  Wilt Chamberlain set a PL postseason record with 35 points, nine better than the 26 scored by Lincoln’s Clarence “Bud” Houck in 1952 and again in the ’53 quarterfinals. In one sequence, Chamberlain blocked four successive shots. George Hagopian (19) and Houck (17) led Lincoln.
At the Palestra
Overbrook 71, Northeast 62
Wilt Chamberlain shot 12-for-29 and 10-for-15 for 34 points as 'Brook won its fourth title in six years. The Hilltoppers shot 29-for-50 at the line and all five Northeast starters fouled out. Guy Rodgers led Northeast with 26 points and at one point made five consecutive baskets.
At the Palestra
West Catholic 54, Overbrook 42
Before 8,461 fans (4,000 were turned away), West Catholic held 6-11 Wilt Chamberlain to 29 points by surrounding him at all times with four defenders. Chamberlain shot 9-for-25 from the floor and 11-for-19 at the line. Bill Lindsay played the "floater" in West's defense and also scored a game-record 32 points, shooting 12-for-13 and 8-for-11.

At the Palestra
Overbrook 74, West 55
  Wilt Chamberlain poured in 41 points — most in PL playoff history — as ’Brook coasted. He outscored West in the first half, 22-20. Joe Howell scored 18 points for West.
At the Palestra
Overbrook 60, Northeast 46
Wilt Chamberlain scored all 13 of Overbrook's first-quarter points and finished with 40. No one else scored more than six. William "Sonny" Hill led Northeast with 11 points.
At the Palestra
Overbrook 74, South Catholic 50
Wilt Chamberlain scored 32 points to tie the game record set in '53 by West Catholic's Bill Lindsay. Jim Sadler added 17 points. 'Brook completed a 20-0 season and became the first PL winner since Bartram in '44. Fred Giordano led South with 11 points.

At the Palestra
Overbrook 83, Bok 46
  Wilt Chamberlain sank 23 field goals en route to 48 points, a total that enabled him to expand his PL postseason record (41, set in ’54). He played all but the final 27 seconds.
At the Palestra
Overbrook 78, West 60
Seven-foot Wilt Chamberlain and 5-6 Marty Hughes scored 33 and 25 points, respectively, before a capacity crowd of 8,500 paid. Vince Miller added 17 points. With chief stars Ray "Chink" Scott and Joe Goldenberg in deep foul trouble, West was led in scoring by Reese Murray and Pete Urquhart (13 apiece). In the '54 and '55 seasons, West had six losses — all to 'Brook.
At the Palestra
Overbrook 83, West Catholic 42
Wilt Chamberlain contributed a game-record 35 points as 'Brook finished 18-1. Six-five Vince Miller was right behind with 31 points, making 14 of his 15 baskets on corner jumpers. Chamberlain finished his three-year varsity career with 2,252 points (later reduced to 2,206; 46 were scored in games against the alumni) and an overall record of 56-3. The other starters were
Marty Hughes, Dave Shapiro and Howard Johnson. Pat Carey scored 11 points for West.