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Basketball at its best

Girls pro team slams Saranac Lake Hot Shots 103-58

What a great way for the Saranac Lake High School scholarship fund to bolster its coffers than to host a world championship basketball team to play in the high school gym.

The All-American Red Heads world champion women’s basketball team played the Hot Shot All Stars in a comedy-filled game apparently mixed with ball handling similar to the Harlem Globetrotters.

Now we want to make this column the talk of the town, so when you run into one of the Hot Shot players on the street, ask them about the game and get a firsthand, behind-the-scenes tale about the game.

I have seen the Harlem Globetrotters play at the Olympic Arena in Lake Placid. They were founded in 1926 by Abe Saperstein and “stunned the world” when in 1948 they twice beat the NBA Champion Minneapolis Lakers. They currently play 400 games a year in 25 countries.

Now let’s get to the local game with a great story by Enterprise reporter Steve Cohen.

“Neither rain, sleet, nor snow prevented basketball enthusiasts from attending last Friday night’s scholarship fund game at Saranac Lake High School. The Hot Shot All-Stars, comprised of local faculty members and coaches, hosted the All-American Red Heads World Champion Women’s basketball team.

“A standing room only crowd enjoyed basketball at its best. Although the Hot Shots were walloped 103-58 in regular game play, a carnival atmosphere generated by all players tempered the outcome. It was evident from the opening tip off this was to be no ordinary game.

“The local hoopsters, under the tutelage of Fraser Sturgeon and high school principal, Warner Houth, sent into battle a three squad alternating team. Representing the Hot Shots were Paul Smith’s College soccer coaches Chuck Koehler and Mike Leahy, NCCC instructor Murray Heller, Saranac Lake teachers and coaches Duane Fisk, Chuck Bell, Ed McCarthy, Dick Zerrahn, Jim Keough, Pat Hogan, Breck Chapin, Jeff Wisher, Ron Keegan and Randy Bickford. Rounding out the All-Stars were Tupper Lake basketball coaches Pete Reilly and Rod Gale.

“Coach Charlotte Adams introduced a seven player squad. The Red Heads were represented by Barbara Hostert, Wanda England, Cheryl Clark, Marsha Tate, Lynette Sjoquist, Susan Callaghan and Donna ‘Spanky’ Losier.

“After delivering team introductions, Coach Adams explained that the ‘carrot-tops’ lassies are on the road for seven months. Playing every night, they cover 70,000 miles and delight audiences in 42 states.”

Hot Shots singled out

“It was determined before the contest that both teams were to play one on one defense. Each Red Head selected a ‘game mate’ and vocally let the fans know the defense assignments. Announcements of ‘I’ve got Ed’ or ‘I’ve got Pete’ foreshadowed the match-up encounters. The complement of Ed McCarthy and Spanky Losier, Red Head’s merry-andrew of the court, provided countless incidents of hilarity. Spanky provided laughs while Ed’s soft touch at the hoop gave the Hot Shots many needed scores.

Marx Brothers revisited

“‘Baitin’ the Referees and making life more interesting for the opposing players is Spanky’s basketball trademark. As the pivot for many of the unsuspected and unusual happenings on the court, Spanky generated a series of humorous events and predicaments. Likened to Marx Brother dialogues, the bolts of satire and ridicule were launched against people in authority.

“One individual that caught the full force of the attack was referee ‘Bub’ McGrain. Spanky and the crew did everything imaginable to include jovial and good natured official in their antics. Insults such as Pillsbury Doughboy, referring to Bub’s tall but stocky frame, were fired without hesitation. Bub was also admitted to a trick ball handling exhibition at mid-court.

“It appeared that no one was safe from the parodies. Police Officer ‘Beef’ Bevilacqua, standing on the side lines, was handed an abducted game ball and then accused a Red Head of concealing evidence. Even Coach Houth caught insult. ‘It’s off, it’s off,’ repeated Spanky while lining up a foul shot. ‘What’s off?’, questioned a teammate. Instantly, Spanky pointed her finger towards Coach Houth and bellowed, ‘his hair!’ That’s what is off.’ (Of course Mr. Houth was bald.)

Half-time sportacular

“The half-time show featured the Red Head’s demonstrating a razzle-dazzle ball handling show. Expressions of awe were revealed on the faces of the spectators as each artist performed an individual skill. Clark’s dribbling wizardy and one finger ball spins highlighted the spectacle. Other precision feats included behind-the-back baskets and juggling with four basketballs. Callaghan dominated the finale as she held or ‘palmed’ a basketball in each outstretched hand.

“The remainder of the competition held as many thrills and laughs. Ed McCarthy and Dick Zerrahn sparkled the Hot Shots while Wanda England found the range with long set and jump shots.

“Special thanks to those donating their time and effort. Coach Fraser Sturgeon and Warner Houth, emcee Jack Muldowney, members of the Hot Shots and Referees Bub McGrain and Ed Goetz.”

Wow! That game was 49 years ago. I saw some of those guys who played on the Hot Shot team a few days ago. You know what? They haven’t changed a bit.

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