The Lower Merion Boys Basketball program will honor its inaugural Hall of Fame class during an induction ceremony and dinner on Saturday, June 7 in the Lower Merion HS Main Gym. The event is part of the 2008 Lower Merion Basketball Reunion Weekend (June 6-7), celebrating the 100+ year history of the program.
More than 800 young men have worn the Maroon & White since the program’s inception at the turn of the last century. Given the program’s record of excellence (a PA-best six state titles) and the community’s longstanding basketball tradition, a large number of alumni are deserving of Hall of Fame recognition. The inaugural class was selected by a committee of alumni and Lower Merion basketball observers (1940’s to present) to represent multiple generations and serves as a starting point in what will be an ongoing effort to assemble a complete Hall of Fame.
The Lower Merion Basketball Hall of Fame will be named in honor of famed coach William H. Anderson and a display listing the names of honorees will be placed adjacent to the gymnasium at the new Lower Merion High School, scheduled to open in the Fall of 2010.
Members of the first Hall of Fame class include:
Coach William H. Anderson – Head Coach, 1927-45
During his 18-year coaching tenure, “Andy” led the Aces to four state titles, 12 District 1 titles, seven state finals appearances and set a school record for victories (346) that still stands today. His state playoff record of 59-8 (.880 winning percentage) is the best in PIAA history. Prior to Anderson’s career at Lower Merion, teams from Western PA dominated high school basketball in the state; Lower Merion became PA’s first eastern power and helped fuel interest in the sport in the Philadelphia area. Anderson’s on-court innovations led to several rules changes, including the elimination of a jump-ball after each score, the institution of a ten-second backcourt violation and a three-second painted area violation. Following his tenure at Lower Merion, Anderson returned to coach at his alma mater, Lafayette College, where he is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. William Anderson died in 1962.
1933 State Championship Team
Lower Merion’s first state title team set the stage for a run of unparalleled success. The team lacked a “star,” but was the best defensive squad in the Anderson era, holding opponents to 16 points per game. The ’33 Aces defeated Altoona 21-16 in the state final in front of 10,000 fans at the Palestra. Captain Roger Hanger, playing with a badly sprained ankle, teamed with Mike Zengel (16 points) to key the victory. So great was the Aces’ following during their title run, that the PIAA changed a long-standing rule that rotated the state title games between Eastern and Western Pennsylvania. To accommodate capacity crowds, the PIAA moved all championship games to large arenas – the Palestra and Philadelphia’s Convention Hall hosted the PIAA championship for the next 20 years.
Charles “Dutch” Sivertsen – Class of 1942
Sivertsen was a rare three-year star and captain of the 1941 state championship team. He earned first team All-State honors in his senior season and gained legendary status by notching 20 points – a career best – in the 1941 title game against Duquesne. As a sophomore in 1939, Sivertsen scored a team high 15 points in the Eastern Final to send the Aces to their first title game since 1933. His clutch play and leadership set the tone for his younger teammates, who won consecutive titles in ’42 and ’43. Sivertsen’s signature move was the hook shot, which he shot with equal ability with his left and right hands.
Harry Middleton – Class of 1942
Middleton was a key member of two state championship teams (1941, 1942) and a first-team All-State selection and team captain in his senior season. A gifted ball handler and shooter, Middleton was best-known for his defensive prowess. He regularly drew the task of guarding the opponent’s best player. In the 1941 title game, he limited PA Player of the Year Chink Crossin to just three second-half points, helping to key the Aces’ 32-24 victory. Middleton played college basketball at Cornell University.
Greer Heindel – Class of 1943
Heindel remains the only player in Pennsylvania history to start on three consecutive state championship teams. A first-team All-State selection and team captain in his senior season, Heindel finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer. In the 1943 title game against Sharon, he led the Aces with nine points in a 29-28 thriller, to help secure the program’s first and only undefeated season (22-0). A gifted all-around athlete, Heindel went on to play both basketball and football at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mitchell McDaniel – Class of 1963
McDaniel finished his career as the Aces’ all-time leading scorer with 1017 points and became the first Aces player to reach the 1,000 point plateau. His remarkable record, achieved before the advent of the three-point shot, would stand for nearly 30 years. During his senior season, McDaniel averaged nearly 25 points per game, tallying a school record 44 points against Norristown. A senior captain and two-time all-league selection, McDaniel guided the ’63 Aces to their best record (16-5) since 1947. He went on to star at Kutztown University.
William “Billy” Holland – Class of 1969
Holland helped lead the Aces to their first Central League title during a cinderella 1967-68 campaign. A three-year star and senior captain noted for his deft jump shot and all-around floor game, Holland received an invite to play in the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic, the equivalent of today’s National McDonald’s All-American Game. Holland’s legacy continued beyond the walls of Lower Merion as he led the development of the Ardmore Avenue Community Center, a center of community life for Ardmore youth. Holland went on to star at Lincoln University.
Wendell Holland – Class of 1970
Holland fueled the resurgence of the program as a local power during a stellar three year career. The Aces went a combined 41-7 in league play during Holland’s tenure – best since the mid ‘40’s and a three-year mark that wouldn’t be surpassed until the late ‘90’s. Holland’s teams also strung together the first three consecutive winning seasons in 15 years, including a first-ever Central League title (1967-68). A senior captain, leading scorer and area All-Star, Holland went on to star at Fordham, where he was recruited by the legendary Digger Phelps.
Sam Brown, Kevin Lonesome, Jim Brogan – Class of 1976
The All-League trio of Brogan, Brown and Lonesome propelled the Aces to their first District championship and first 20-win season in more than 30 years. The ’76 team won 22 consecutive games, including a 43-38 thriller against Plymouth Whitemarsh at the Palestra in the District Final. Brogan, a sharp-shooting guard, averaged 15 points per game to pace the Aces’ attack; Brown (14 ppg), a hard-nosed forward, led the team in rebounding and Lonesome (14 ppg), a talented floor general, led the team in assists. All three players earned first-team league honors in their senior campaign and all-league recognition in their junior seasons. The three also helped key a runner-up District finish in 1975 and back-to-back Central League titles (’75, ’76).
Lonesome went on to star at Brandywine Junior College and nationally-ranked Abilene Christian University, where he still holds the school’s free-throw record. He now coaches high school basketball in Texas and helped launch the career of Utah Jazz star Derron Williams.
Brogan played college basketball at West Virginia Wesleyan and became Lower Merion’s first NBA player when he joined the Golden State Warriors in 1981. He is a motivational speaker and authority on peak performance for teens, elite athletes and CEO’s.
Brown continued his athletic career at Cornell University, where he starred for the Big Red’s football program. He came to Lower Merion as part of A Better Chance, a program that continues to enable talented urban youth to attend top high schools around the country.
Kobe Bryant – Class of 1996
During his senior season in 1996, Kobe Bryant piloted the Aces to a program-best record of 31-3, including 27 straight wins, a Central League title, District I title, and state title. Averaging 30.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.0 steals and 3.9 blocks per game, Bryant was named Gatorade, USA Today, and Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year as well as a unanimous first-team All-American. During his four-year varsity career, he became the all-time scoring leading in the history of Southeastern Pennsylvania, tallying 2,883 points. After being named a McDonald’s High School All-American, Bryant declared himself eligible for the 1996 NBA Draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick before having his draft rights traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. A three-time NBA champion, Bryant earned his first league MVP in 2008. During the summer of 2008, he will represent Team USA at the Beijing Olympics.
Additional Reunion Information:
For more information and to register for the Hall of Fame event, please visit the “Alumni Reunion Registration” link on the homepage. The reunion is the final event in the Main Gym at Lower Merion High School. Opened in 1964, the court has seen its share of championship teams and outstanding players. The court will be demolished in June to make way for the construction of a new high school. The Downs Gym, the revered home court of LM’s first title teams will remain and has formally been designated an “historic landmark.”
Proceeds from the weekend will benefit the Lower Merion Basketball Program and Lower Merion Basketball Scholarship Fund. The fund has been established to help support the college dreams of future Aces in need of additional financial support.