Billy Reardon, the quintessential Catholic point guard

February 15, 2013

Billy the Kid - Thirty years ago - could have been 35 - Bill Reardon was talked into showing up on a winter’s night for Thursday night basketball at Rehoboth Junior High. Bag of Bones or Billy the Kid would have been the basketball nickname for this 1961 Salesianum guard if I were writing about him.  Everything was loose and limber, floppy in a Pete Maravich sort of way, all knees and elbows, old sneakers and droopy socks. But Bill could flat-out play, which made perfect sense to me, because I never saw anyone get the better of Bill, a personality who was cautiously aggressive in the stealth style of a counter puncher. And I was happy he was on my team. We held court all night; it was better than when I played in the Palestra in 1964. The 15 regulars who showed up back then could all play basketball. We had size and shooters, all players with a pedigree and a story to tell. After playing, Bill said to me, ”I’m glad I played with you. None of these other idiots can play without the ball.” That compliment meant more to me than any trophy or plaque I almost won. Bill passed to the other side last week at the age of 70, and I just feel fortunate that I was on his team the whole time living here in coastal Sussex, and all his other friends feel the same.

Change for a twenty - “It’s not a question if there’s life after death but rather do they have change for a twenty.” - Woody Allen. I went to a girls' basketball game Tuesday night at Sussex Central that began at 6 p.m. You know the scenario - only one side of bleachers pulled out, a scattering of gym class equipment strewn about, wrestlers running here and there trying to lose weight. Voices in an almost empty gym are more clearly heard; there is nothing to absorb the sound and no competition. “Yo, ref! Where da fowl at?" should be written on the whiteboard of every classroom in Sussex County. I counted the number of Cape fans in attendance; I know it was less than 20. I’ve run into a hundred people who know a better way to coach a Cape team that got caught this season in a bit of a talent drought. Well, “make it rain,” I’m all ears. Central ran away from Cape and the next night beat Smyrna by one, 59-58, to go 14-4 on the season. This is Central's best team since Charlie Boy Hudson and all-state guard Markisha Wise and Jen Coursey took them to the finals.

Swift-boated - A University of Delaware student called me as part of an annual fundraising drive. Five words in I interrupted, “Thirty dollars, same as last year.” He asked where I wanted it to go. “Men’s track, the sport that was dropped.” He flipped, “That’s great, my roommate is on the club team.“ We commenced to banter the way guys do that are three generations apart. I asked him where he went to high school. “Wyomissing near Reading,” he said, and I countered, “Taylor Swift went there.” He said, “Dude, I had a class in 10th grade with her - how crazy is that?” “Get her to fund the men’s track team at Delaware - how crazy is that - the Swift Striders?"

Snippets - The Cape Crusaders basketball program is having tryouts for third-grade, fifth-grade and middle school teams from 3 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Cape gym. It’s a great program if you think there’s a player in the house who's not 40 years old. I have a found Cape class ring from 1979, initials MGM; will the person or lion who owns it send a roar in my direction. The stone is red is all I know - who am I, Dale Bellinger? The Iron Mike DeStasio Hope Golf Classic at Baywood Greens begins at noon, Friday, March 29. Price is $400 for a foursome. Call the golf shop at 302-947-9800. Proceeds benefit the DeStasio family and MDA/ALS Hope Foundation. If you even dream you’re half as tough as Iron Mike, wake up, get out of bed and go beat up a bully. Virginia Tech women’s lax at High Point at 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, will see Meg Bartley of VT and Alec Perry of HP, Cape kids on the field together again. Cape juniors Kat Judge and Allie Yeager have verbally committed to play lacrosse at Division I Winthrop University in Charlotte, N.C. The Eagles play in the Big South Conference. Cape senior Sara Young, Penn, and Anna Frederick, Temple, give Cape four D1 committed players on the 2013 team.  Jake Dmiterchik, a freshman first baseman, has made the baseball team at Salisbury University, the ninth-ranked team in Division III. Billy Cunningham, a former Cape second baseman, is the new head baseball coach at Wilmington Christian. The team will be down at Cape in March for a scrimmage. Synchronized swimming versus wrestling as Olympic sports with old men making the decision, are you really surprised? A team of Nordic women half out of the water doing the eggbeater below versus Greco-Roman grappling?  The women win hands down. Was that a pun? Go on now, git!

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