January 11, 2012

It was quite a sports week at Mainland Regional

Sports Columnist

Mainland Regional celebrated 50 years of Mustang basketball last Friday night in its newly refurbished gymnasium. Players from as far back as the early 1960s, like Lyle Alverson, who played his first two years at Ocean City, and Denny DiOrio, who played a few years later, joined in.

When the celebration was scheduled, however, who knew that the day before Mainland would be announced as the national winner of the Under Armour Finding Undeniable contest. And, if that wasn’t enough, two nights earlier, the No. 4 ranked team in the country – St. Anthony of Jersey City – was in that gym playing against the Mustangs before a sold out crowd.

Winning the Under Armour contest, which was determined by performing tasks and getting online votes, will give Mainland a $140,000 line of credit for uniforms, shoes and sportswear. Ocean City fans will surely be excited to know that Mainland’s win over the Raiders during the football season earned them 29 points in the competition.

By the way, the rumors that the prize includes a hot tub and wet bar in the office of the athletics director are greatly exaggerated.

Visiting the newly designed Mainland gym on Friday night brought back memories. Seeing Jim Schafer, Whitey Haak and George Evinski returning to be introduced at halftime was rewarding. Jon Evans was there and so was Billy Care (though without his green shoes!).

Unfortunately, as is always the case with these reunion-type events, there were many who couldn’t be there.

Skip Castaldi, still the greatest player to wear the Mainland uniform, was in Florida. So was his coach, Nuncie Sacco, who was the school’s first basketball coach and, later, a successful athletics director.

Also missing was the late Gary Satrappe, probably the finest pure shooter the Cape-Atlantic League has produced. Plus Dan Merrifield, Al Glass, Dan Williams, Joe Bucci and Rob Higbee – all 1,000-point scorers. And don’t forget Angie Evans, Shannon Ward, Kim Osborne, Fran Raph, Meghan McIntyre and Shaune McLaughlin.

Scott Beeten, who coached the Mustangs to a state title and later coached at Richard Stockton College and the University of Albany, wasn’t there. Neither was Sam Botta, who set the Mustangs on a challenging schedule that included the prestigious Seagull Classic and another game with St. Anthony’s. Or Karl Geisinger, who retired as girls coach after earning the second most wins in CAL history.

Though the gym is brighter, the scoreboards are new and the green really jumps out at you, the permanent bleachers have not been installed yet. Temporary bleachers are in place that will serve nicely until the final piece is in place.

The gym looks completely different but it’s the same building where Dixie Howell, and Bill Deibert, and Bernie McCracken, and Ken Leary, and Jack Boyd, and Joe Fussner, and Pat Dougherty would bring their teams to take on the Mustangs. Chris Ford played there. And so did Dennis Horner.

This gym is one of the oldest public school gyms in the Cape-Atlantic League and, though it now looks brighter and more modern, it is still filled with memories of special people and special games.


Speaking of special memories, Charles Bringhurst, a very good player from years before the Cape-Atlantic League was formed, died last week at the age of 85.

Bringhurst led Ocean City in scoring in the 1942 season, averaging 12.6 points per game. That team, coached by John Carey, finished 14-2 and won the Cape May County championship. That was in the days, before Mainland, when students from Somers Point and Linwood came to OCHS.

Bringhurst was one of just 17 players in Ocean City history to average a double-double for the entire season. In addition to his 12.6 points, he averaged 10.5 rebounds a game.

His genes carried on, however, as his grandson, Bob McAllister, became just the second Ocean City player to average a double-double in consecutive seasons, 47 years after his grandfather.

Read more of Tom Williams' columns