By Phil Anastasia
Superstar boys' basketball players Malik Allen, Joe Crispin, Ernest Turner and LaMarr Greer will be inducted into the South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame on Feb. 9.
Joining them in this year's class will be standout girls' players Cheryl Kulesa and Michelle Maslowski along with Dave Troiano as a coach and John Pierantozzi as a contributor to the sport.
The induction ceremonies will take place at a banquet Sunday, Feb. 9th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Route 70 and Cuthbert Blvd., Cherry Hill starting at 5:30 p.m.
The tickets cost $35 and may be obtained by calling Jack Mongulla at 856-461-8800 or e-mail to BASKETBALLCLUB@comcast.net.
Here's the text of the organization's news release on this year's inductees:
He was a four-year varsity starter for Pitman High School and one of the most exciting South Jersey high school players in the 1990s. During his career the Panthers posted a 78-30 record and as a senior helped lead his team to the State Group 1 championship.
In the state title game he scored 31 points and his sophomore brother Jon added 24 in a thrilling 73-67 win over Newark Science. He then scored 28 points in his final high school game, a 75-72 loss to Union, in the first round of the Tournament of Champions.
His play that year helped Pitman compile a 26-4 record and gave the Panthers their first Tri-County Conference championship since 1969.
He scored 2,654 points which is still a school record.
Following his high school days he accepted a scholarship to Penn State University. There he continued his brilliant career where he helped lead the Nittany Lions to two NIT Final Fours and a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. He was named first team All-Big Ten in 2001 and that same year he won the college three-point shooting competition. He finished his college career with 1,986 points, which is still third in Penn State history.
After a brief career in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns he played nine seasons in Europe.
CHERYL KULESA CLARK
She was one of the finest all-around athletes in South Jersey history. The 1997 Gloucester Catholic High School graduate was a standout in both basketball and soccer. She was named All-South Jersey in both sports during her senior year. That same year she was named the Female Athlete of the Year by three area newspapers.
As a three-time All-South Jersey selection in basketball she was a scoring machine. She helped the Rams win a tri-County Conference championship in all four years and finished her remarkable career with 1,979 points. She averaged 28 points a game in her senior year.
Her outstanding high school career earned a full scholarship to St. Joseph University where she was a three-year starter. She was second on her team in steals and assists her sophomore and junior years. The Lady Hawks won the Big Five and Atlantic 10 championships in her sophomore season.
She then transferred to Rutgers-Camden for her final year. She led the Lady Raptors to a 22-7 record and the school’s first-ever invitation to the Division III NCAA Tournament after winning New Jersey Athletic Conference title.
That year she set a school record with 142 steals while adding 157 assists, 340 rebounds and 593 points.
Currently she is her ninth season as the basketball coach at Audubon High School.
Certainly one of the finest all-around basketball players in South Jersey history he will be forever remembered for his performance in the 1994 state tournament leading Middle Township to its second straight State Group 2 Tournament crown.
He tallied 37 points in the South Jersey Sectional championship game against Point Pleasant Boro and then followed that with a 34-point output against Princeton in the state semifinal round.
With the state championship on the line he was nearly unstoppable as he poured in 32 points to lead Middle to its second state crown.
Greer finished his outstanding career with a 36-point explosion but it wasn’t enough as Middle fell to Group 4 champion Piscataway in the first round of the Tournament of Champions.
The year before he teamed with Stefano Anderson in helping the Panthers win the first of their back-to-back state championships. The Panthers then went on to reach the Tournament of Champions title game before falling to powerful St. Anthony of Jersey City.
He spent the first two years of his career at Overbrook before transferring to Middle Township.
While at Middle he was twice named to the All-South Jersey team and as senior was named a McDonald’s All-American. He finished his career with 2,637 points.
He then enjoyed a fine four-year career at Florida State University, averaging 11.1 points a game as a senior. In 1999 he helped the Atlantic City Seagulls win the USBL championship. He has also enjoyed a long professional career overseas playing in Germany, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece and Finland
He has had a remarkable 35-year coaching career guiding the girls’ basketball program at Wildwood High School. Last January he recorded his 600th victory and has coached over 900 games during his career.
He became the Wildwood varsity coach at the start of the 1977-78 season and has been firmly entrenched in the position ever since. The Pittsburgh native was a teacher at Wildwood before retiring seven years ago.
Actually he started his coaching career as an assistant to boys’ coach Bernie McCracken before taking over the girls’ program that began with a win over Oakcrest.
During his career the Wildwood program has won four State Group 1 championships with the first coming in 1991 when current assistant Teresa Polini-Cunniff was a standout guard.
Then nine years later came Wildwood’s most remarkable run when the Warriors, with Hall-of-Famer Monica Johnson leading the way, won three straight State Group 1 championships starting in 2000.
There is no way to accurately measure the contribution he has made to the South Jersey scholastic sports scene. This year’s recipient of the Albert Carino Basketball Club of South Jersey Distinguished Service Award has been active in many area activities since 1962 as a teacher, coach and official.
He has been one of the top basketball officials in the state over the past 49 years as a member of Board 196 of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials. He has worked 11 state championship games along the way and in 2000 was named the Boys’ Basketball Official of the Year by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association/National Federation Officials Association.
Allen was a major force on the inside on the great Shawnee High School teams in the middle 1990s. Allen was a four-year varsity performer for Coach Joe Kessler’s Renegades.
He is only one of a few select players in South Jersey history to have played on four sectional championship teams. In his four years the Shawnee program post a remarkable 104-11 record in winning its four sectional titles.
During his junior and senior seasons Shawnee won state championships. In three of his four years the Renegades reached the State Group 4 finals. Shawnee also won four conference championships during his career.
The two-time All-South Jersey selection had some memorable games through Shawnee’s championship runs. In the State Group 4 semifinal round game in 1995 he had 27 points in the win over Piscataway and followed that with a 20-point explosion in the state final win over Elizabeth.
In the 1996 State Group 4 semifinal round contest he poured in 27 points in the victory over Trenton. He finished his career with 1,575 points and is still the school’s all-time leader in rebounding and blocked shots.
He then went on to have a standout career at Villanova University where he saw action all four years. He was a starter in his final three seasons and provided the Wildcats with a consistent low post presence. He had 1,131 career points in college.
He signed as a free agent by the Miami Heat 2001. This was the beginning of a 10-year career in the NBA that included stops in Miami, Chicago, Dallas Charlotte, Milwaukee, Denver and Orlando.
Turner was a two-time All-South Jersey player and a four-year starter for Coach Bill Hiltner at Sterling High School.
There was nothing he couldn’t do well on a basketball court. Not only was he a scoring machine but the 2001 graduate could pass, rebound, dribble and he was also an outstanding defender.
He was at his best when the game was on the line. He led his team scoring in all four of his seasons at Sterling and is still the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,806 points.
In his four years Sterling compiled a 96-31 record and shared two Colonial Conference titles with Haddonfield. As s sophomore he helped the Silver Knights capture the school’s third sectional title.
In 1999 he scored 32 points in the South Jersey Group 2 title game in a win over Gloucester. In the state semifinal loss to Holmdel he scored 29 points. As a junior he led Sterling to another berth in the South Jersey final before falling to Haddonfield. The Silver Knights posted a 20-6 record when he was a senior but was upset by Moorestown in the state tournament despite his 29 points.
Following his high school days he went on to the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He saw action in his first two seasons for the Running Rebels before transferring to the University of Maine.
After sitting out a season due to NCAA rules he played the next two seasons for Maine. He averaged in double figures in both seasons and scored a career-high 30 points against Hartford.
She will always be remembered as one of the most dedicated athletes in South Jersey history.
The 1997 Williamstown High School graduate not only excelled in soccer, basketball and softball but the classroom as well, finishing 12th in her graduating class. Her desire, motivation and intensity to be the best have been her trademark throughout her life.
While she was a standout in soccer and softball she was at her best when she performed on a basketball court. She was a four-year varsity player for the Braves and helped Williamstown become one of the top teams in the area. As a senior she helped the Braves win a share of the Tri-County Conference Royal Division championship. She finished her brilliant career with a school record 1,612 points and 1,036 rebounds.
She then went on to have an outstanding basketball career at Drexel University where she was a four-year starter. After playing her first two seasons she sat our junior year due to an injury. She returned the following year and played her final two seasons while earning her undergraduate and master’s degrees. She averaged 16.7 points a game in her four years, the second highest average in school history. She is the second the leading scorer in school history with 1,900 points.
Following her Drexel days she played the next 10 years in Europe with stops in Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Croatia and Luxembourg. Currently she is the Director of Development within the Drexel Institutional Advancement Department.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com