S.J. Hall to induct Greer

3/13/94 Hillside vs. Middle Twp. H.S. boys basketball at Rutgers Athletic Center. Middle Twp's LaMarr Greer hangs on the rim after scoring two points on a breakaway 3/13/94 . (ELIZABETH VORHAUER)

Bus rides.

Ask a former high school basketball star what he remembers best about the state tournament, and he'll talk about the packed gymnasiums and the big shots, the decisive plays, and the sound of the horn at the end of another victory.

But invariably, he also will talk about the bus rides - the bumpy two-way trips with teammates, the rising anticipation of the journey to the games, the relief and excitement of the return home.

"That's what I remember," LaMarr Greer said of his junior and senior seasons at Middle Township High School in Cape May County. "We were pretty far south, so we took some long bus rides.

"I remember how much that meant to all of us as teammates, to have that time together, the way it brought us closer together."

Greer will be inducted into the South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame as part of a distinguished class on Feb. 9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill. Just among four of the men on the dais, there will be 9,672 career points: Greer, 2,637; Joe Crispin, 2,654; Malik Allen, 1,575; and Ernest Turner, 2,806.

"It's an honor to go in with a group like that," Greer said.

The 6-foot-4 Greer was one of the best players in South Jersey history. He led Middle Township to state titles in 1993 and 1994 and helped the Panthers reach the Tournament of Champions final as a junior.

"He was one of the most dangerous players we've ever faced," St. Augustine coach Paul Rodio said. "He could play all five positions. His senior year, he played point guard and he was a very, very difficult matchup. Great, great player."

That was a great era in South Jersey basketball, with Shawnee winning state titles in 1992, 1995, and 1996, reaching the T of C finals all three years and capturing the crown in '92; with Pleasantville winning state titles in 1995 and '96; with Rancocas Valley winning state titles and first-round T of C games in 1996 and '98.

Greer said Middle Township proudly carried the South Jersey banner from Cape May Courthouse on those long trips up the Garden State Parkway and into the northern part of the state.

"That was a big thing for us, to represent South Jersey against those North Jersey teams," said Greer, 37. "That's one of the reasons I'm so excited to go in the South Jersey Hall of Fame, because we took that seriously, that South Jersey basketball had teams and players who were just as good as North Jersey."

Greer cemented his legacy in the state tournament as a senior. Starting with the South Jersey Group 2 final and through the first round of the Tournament of Champions, here are his scoring totals for the last four games of his career: 37, 34, 32, and 36.

"I remember being so focused, when we would ride home, I would forget about the last game and already be concentrating on the next one," Greer said. "Coach [Tom] Feraco pushed me so hard. He was the best coach I ever had. He had me mentally prepared to play my best.

"I didn't even realize how well I was playing. It's only now when I look back and I think, 'Dang, I was pretty good.' "

Greer played four years for Florida State, averaging 11.1 points as a senior. He said he remains a "die-hard" Seminoles supporter who was thrilled to see his old school win the national football title Monday night.

"I was jumping off my couch the whole game," Greer said.

After college, Greer fashioned a long and successful career overseas. He played in Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, and Finland.

Greer and his wife raised their four children overseas, although the family has moved home to Cape May Courthouse so the kids can play for Middle Township.

"My kids are so nonchalant about living in Europe," Greer said. "They say, 'Boy, I wish I had some pizza from Naples [Italy].' I have to laugh."

Greer knows it was basketball that provided the passage for him and his family across the globe.

And it was basketball that created those other unforgettable trips as well, the long bus rides with his teammates and coaches that carried him into South Jersey basketball history.

Hall of Fame banquet

What: South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

When, where: Sunday, Feb. 9, at 5:30 p.m. at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill.

Inductees: Malik Allen, Cheryl (Kulesa) Clark, Joe Crispin, LaMarr Greer, Michelle Maslowski, John Pierantozzi, Dave Troiano, Ernest Turner.

Tickets: They cost $35 and can be obtained by calling Jack Mongulla at 856-461-8800 or e-mailing to basketballclub@comcast.net.