Congratulations to Salesianum as the school celebrates 100 years of scholastic basketball during the current 2011-2012 season.
The celebration began on Jan. 9 with the Salesianum Basketball Centennial Dinner at the Rev. John Birkenheuer Gymnasium.
Featured speaker was Temple University basketball coach Fran Dunphy. Dunphy has won over 420 games combined, coaching 17 years at the University of Pennsylvania and now in his sixth season at Temple.
Before going on, former players, managers, coaches, alum and friends of the school should mark down these upocoming dates,
Gallagher has four regular season games coming up to honor the basketball alumni.
A spcial secition will be avaiablre for them to sit in. They will be acknowledged and invited to a special reception in the school after the game.
The dates and the era to be recognized are Jan 20 against St. Mark’s (celebrating the 70s and 80s) Jan. 26 vs Howard (celebrate those from 8th & West), Feb. 2 against St. Elizabeth (the 90s through 2011) and Feb. 14 vs Archmere (players from 50s and 60s).
The banquet was the brainchild of present Sallies coach Mike Gallagher and Jon Allison,the school alumni and Communications Director.
I have much more to say on Gallagher later in this blog.
The emcee for the night of memories was Kevin Reilly, who played baseketball for the Sals, but made his name in football with Salesianum, Villanova and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The speakers, who did not go overboard on time, spoke about certain eras.
Jim McFadden, class of 1946, and Don Hutton (1954) talked about the Boys from 8th & West, the site of the school before the present location of 18th and move to 18th Broom opened.
It should be noted that Sallies played in the Philadelphia Catholic League for 24 years from the 1920-21 season through 1944-45. Sallies had a small enrollmrent of boys at the 8th & West localtion.
Former coach Angelo Rossi, spoke about the early years at 18th and Broom (60s, 70s and 80s. His 1981-82 whose 1981-82 team was 21-3, losing to Wilmington (48-42) in the state finals.
Rossi (1968) excelled in football and basketball at Sallies.
Brandon Baffone (1993) and Gene Delle Donne (2005) talked about the Salesianum program today.
And that brings us back to Coach Mike Gallagher.
Gallaher, who is assistant principal and in charge of discipline at the school, was a standout football player at Salesianum and West Chester.
He served as a long-time assistant football coach under George Glenn before being named to succeed Mike LaPenta as basketball coach in 1988.
During those years, his teams have played in 20 state tournaments, reached the semifinals once and the championship game three times. He began his final year with a career 305-209 record.
I don’t what to hear about the Gallagher critics that pop up every time Sallies falls short of this or that.
Gallagher has dedicated so much of his life to molding young men in the Salesianum tradition morally, education wise and on the basketball floor.
Gallagher is truly a teacher of young men. Even if you don’t agree with Mike’s coaching methods or the final won-lost record the last several years, Gallagher is a great teacher, motivator and model for young student-athletes.
The emotions came through at the dinner when Baffone and DelleDonne presente3d Gallagher with a plaque from the school administration for his outstanding coaching career. He received hugs from his two former players who made it a point in speech to talk about the coach they so respected.
Gallagher also received a hug and special comments from Rossi as well.
Another thing about Gallagher. His teams are prepared and have a work ethic (practice and games) that is second to none in the state.
The present Sallies squad of 2011-2012 has a chance to do something that no other team has ever done in school history.
These kids can give Coach Gallagher a special season he will never forget. Winning a state title is the ultimate for any team, but that isn’t the most important thing.
If this club continues to play its heart out and wins as many games as it can, it will be a major part of the Salesianum basketball tradition. After all – you are all wearing the Sallies uniform of the 100th anniversary team. No one can take that away from you.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. In last Friday’s 63-61 win over cioy rival and ninth ranked St. Elizabeth, senior guard Devin Harmon hit a big three-point in the closing half minue to put his team ahead for good.
The impressive thing is that Harmon was playing, despite battling the flu that entire day.
Gallagher was trying to save Harmon for the right time and he didn’t play as much because he was far from 100 percent.
Harmon told Gallagher he was feeling good, even though he wasn’t in top form. His quote in Saturday’s News Journal was “I really didn’t feel that great, but I had to do what I had to do for the team.”
Harmon finished with 12 points, making all four shots he took. That’s a memory from this Centennial team Gallagher, Harmon and his teammates should never forget.
There are some people in the state (coaches, fans, former players etc.) who think Salesianum doesn’t have that much basketball tradition.
My response to that is you don’t have any idea what you are talking about.
Lets start with coaches like the great Jim Hagan, Father Birkenheuer, Vinnie Scott, Lou Bender, Frank Brady, Angie Rossi, Mike LaPenta and Coach Gallagher.
Salesianum hasn’t had any first team Al-Staters in many years,but that doesn’t mean there were not good players on those squads.
Salesianum was 21-4 (2003-04)and had no first team All-Staters. If there wasn’t any tradition how did Sallies go 21-4, losing by just five points in the finals to talented Middletown.
When it comes to great players and All-Staters, Sallies has had more than their share. Lets remember Jim McFadden, Don Hutton, Vinnie Scott, Tom Hall, Clarence (Tootsie) Brown, Frank Kaminski, Bert Sheing, Bruce Kelleher, Dave Sisko, Ed Szczerba, “Pistol” Pete McLaughlin, Bob Minutella, Tom Nagle, James White, Joe Gallagher, Kevin Booth, Michael Thomas, a two-time All-Stater and 1,000 point scorer at St. Joseph’s University , Tracy Peal, Danny Stroud, Kyle Stem and Gene DelleDonne.
Stroud is the all-time leading scorer at Sallies with 1,363 points. Thomas is one point behind Stroud with 1,362.
These names just scratch the surface of a great tradition.
Salesianum has a pround and winning basketball tradition. On its 100th anniversary the state and al Sallies alumnishould congratulate them.
And my comment to Mike Gallagher. Class, honor, respect and a constant winning drive.
Great job my friend, but there is still some more to do. You can never sell Gallagher or his team short. This team is special and will play with that competitive spirit the rest of the way.