Tina Turner Trophy: Simply the Best
Simply the Best - A sportswriter from Philly living in Sussex County since the summer of 1975 would be run out of town on a monorail like a wild mouse over a fishing pier if he even questioned the stature of the 1974-75 Cape state championship 25-0 boys’ basketball squad. They are the best Delaware team of all time. That is the only position to take unless you want your head bitten off. But just to postulate for discussion purposes, what Cape squad over the ensuing 45 years could give them a run? Just watch NBA classic rewinds, and it jumps out like Dr. J that modern players have gotten thicker and stronger, and they shoot the long-range jumper better. The entire drug-free athletic world looks like it’s on steroids, and this has nothing to do with views on steroids or eating genetically engineered food, so don’t even think that. Here is the 1974-75 roster: Purnell Ayers, John Bishop, Jimmy Allen, Carlton “Snoop” Allen, Ronson Burton, Lorenzo Mifflin, Emory Sumlin, Jeffery Hood, Bill McGinness, John Roope, Howard Stevenson, Dean Sherman and John Allen. The 1975-76 state championship squad that went 24-1 may be the next best: John Allen, Purnell Ayers, Thurmon Batson, John Bishop, Rex Dickerson, Jeff Hood, Ed Hopkins, B.J. Joseph, Gilbert Maull, Bill McGinness, Dennis Robinson, John Roope, Dean Sherman, Howard Stevenson and Emory Sumlin. The 1979 Cape team lost in the finals 68-65 to Concord. The 1980 team lost in the final game to Indian River 66-65. How about the 1996 team that lost in overtime in the state finals to Howard 67-63? Members of that team, coached by Jerry Peden, were Terry Hazzard, Lamont Hazzard, Bobby Leggins, Darnell Strand, Olin Bolden, Ronson Burton, Corey Clauser, Mac Buckley, Greg Mansfield and Dale Dunning. That was only 24 years ago. Cape’s 2017-18 boys’ team finished the regular season 18-2 and earned the No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament. Here is the 2018 Cape roster: Randy Rickards, Ian Robertson, Skylar Johnson, Sh’Kai Chandler, Izaiah Dadzie, Kris Rushin, Joe Kirby and Jack Dennis. That was a great team until the wheels came off the wagon in the Henlopen Conference Championship game. I started down this nostalgia road wondering if maybe the 1974-75 Cape team wasn’t the best, they were just loved the most. But the evidence is pretty overwhelming, and they win the Tina Turner Trophy, Simply the Best. Better than all the rest!
Old School - Henlopen Conference champions in basketball in the ’60s prior to Cape district consolidation show Rehoboth winning the title in 1960, 1961 and 1963. The Milton Warriors were champions in 1962, 1966 and 1967. Bill Cordrey, a three-sport athlete, dazzled the state in 1967 with a 57-point performance with Bud Hitchens as his point guard.
Collateral cure - We all hear the term “collateral damage,” but never its opposite condition, “collateral cure.” I’m thinking of all those students who are attracted to a particular sport not as players but as supportive managers, statisticians, photographers and just relentless fans out there to cheer on their school and their friends. I know every high school team and sport has a few students who are so fiercely loyal they should be awarded a varsity letter when they graduate. See the big picture. Show the love; it will last forever.
Dumbo - Most people are intuitively pretty smart when it comes to their own survival. If sports were to resume next week, I’m going to games with my hashtag high-risk bag of tricks. But think about it, if just one high school athlete gets corona, we are all going back home to shelter in place and take photos of our lunch to share on social media. We adults roll the dice, but our greater responsibility is to protect our children. A tough call? Not really.
Snippets - How would you like to be a lifeguard sitting high in the chair overseeing a crowded beach of corona craniums? A virus that is one thousandth the width of an eyelash carried on the ocean breeze by human spittle. Or maybe a “slippery when wet” cross-chest carry of a panicked swimmer coughing up seawater. Grandmom Rose: “Most brave decisions are made by people who feel good.” Salesianum won every Division I boys’ cross country state title from 1976 to 1992, except 1988, when they were upset by Lou Nicoletti’s Delcastle team 29-46. Darby dog and I came upon three gigantic turkey buzzards that were grounded and sunning themselves. They showed no signs of departing, so I made a prudent decision and turned around. One of those jokers could tear my onion up. Go on now, git!