They were ahead of their time, a basketball team that played with high style and looked the part as well.
“We got new uniforms and we looked like the ‘Trotters’ [Harlem Globetrotters],” recalled Dave Robinson, a key member of the undefeated 1958 and 1959 Moorestown High School basketball teams. “We had all-black warm-ups from the track team, and we wouldn’t take those warm-ups off until the start of the game.
“Then we’d show our uniforms with the striped pants like the ‘Trotters’ wore and the high socks. We were so proud of how we looked.”
The 1959 team was the last Moorestown boys’ basketball squad to win a state title.
Sixty years later, Moorestown will take another shot at state glory as the Quakers face Ramapo in the Group 3 championship game at 5 p.m. Sunday at Rutgers.
“They made it back?” Robinson said from Milwaukee, where he was attending a trade show. “And they’re back at Rutgers? That’s where we played in our senior year. Go Quakers.”
Robinson, 77, is best known for his football career. He was a first-team All-American at Penn State, a first-round draft pick by Green Bay in 1963, and a key member of Vince Lombardi’s legendary Packers teams in the 1960s.
Robinson, a linebacker who played on three NFL-championship teams and two Super Bowl-champion teams, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But he was a top basketball player, too.
“I was all-state in basketball, not football,” Robinson said.
Robinson and classmate Ed Douglas were stars for Moorestown teams that went undefeated in both 1957-58 and 1958-59.
Both teams went 22-0 and won Group 3 state championships.
“We tried losing [as sophomores],” Robinson said, “and we didn’t like it.”
Douglas, who died last year, set the South Jersey scoring record with 84 points in a 1959 game against Hamilton. That mark stood until Camden’s Greg Barr scored 94 in 1992.
“What happened was, we wanted to play 22 (regular-season) games, but the board of education would only let us play 17,” Robinson said. “In those days, the scoring champ was based on total points, not average.
“Coach [Pete] Monska said, ‘We’re going to score 100 and Eddie’s going to get 50 so he can win the scoring title.’
“’Doug’ scored 40 in the first half and 44 in the second. He must have made 20 jump shots from the corner, and they all would have been three-pointers today.”
Douglas played one year at Kansas, where “he broke Wilt Chamberlain’s freshman scoring record,” according to Robinson.
The 1959 team, which also featured junior Leroy Peacock, beat Freehold, 102-50, in the state semifinals before a huge crowd at Camden’s Convention Hall.
“We scored 100 all the time,” Robinson said. “We were run-and-gun.”
That 1959 team played a rare interstate game, beating an Overbrook of Philadelphia team that featured future NBA players Wali Jones and Walt Hazzard.
“We had a lot of talent, but the catalyst was Monska,” Robinson said of the coach, who had been a star player at West Chester University and also played and coach with the Philadelphia Sphas. “That was more than a team. That was a little family, and he was a father figure to so many of us.”
The 6-foot-3 Robinson said he dunked in a game only once, as that shot was against the rules. He said it was his last home game, and his older brother Byron — “the best football player in the Robinson family, and he never went to college,” Robinson said — was in the stands.
“My brother asked me to dunk one,” Dave Robinson recalled. “I broke free and did a two-handed dunk, brought the house down. I went to the bench and the powers that be weren’t too happy, but Monska just looked at me and said, “Just don’t do that again.' ”
Robinson said the Quakers of that era, which still featured players who took two-handed set shots, specialized in a freewheeling style thanks to Monska’s coaching philosophy.
“He was amazing,” Robinson said. “He used to tell us, ‘If you’re cold, shoot until you’re hot, and if you’re hot, shoot until you’re cold.’
“He always told us to shoot. He said, ‘They don’t give you any points for passing.’ ”
At Rutgers Athletic Center
Haddonfield (30-1) vs. Newark West Side (22-9), 2 p.m.
Haddonfield road to final: Beat Barnegat, 70-33; Pennsauken Tech, 67-40; West Deptford, 51-30; Camden, 69-67 (OT); Manasquan, 53-43.
Coach: Paul Wiedeman.
Previous state titles: 6 (1973, 1989, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2018).
Players to watch: Mike DePersia, 5-11 senior; Dan Fleming, 6-8 senior; Aidan Blake, 6-4 senior; Dylan Heine, 6-4 senior; Ben Cerrato, 6-6 junior.
West Side road to final: Beat Leonia, 90-31; Madison, 62-48; Hanover Park, 77-55; North Star Academy, 77-60; Mountain Lakes, 59-55.
Coach: Akbar Cook.
Previous state titles: 2 (2016, 2017).
Players to watch: James Bell, 6-3 senior; Marquail Hardiman, 6-8 senior; Kirk Parsons, 6-0 junior.
Pick: Haddonfield, 62-58.
Moorestown (26-5) vs. Ramapo (27-3), 5 p.m.
Moorestown road to final: Beat Deptford, 77-39; Delsea, 71-48; Timber Creek, 52-43; Mainland, 61-43; Wall, 64-44.
Coach: Shawn Anstey.
Previous state titles: 2 (1958, 1959).
Players to watch: Nick Cartwright-Atkins, 6-2 senior; Jagger Zrada, 5-10 senior; Akhil Giri, 5-11 senior; Vinnie Caprarola, 6-0 senior; Kevin Muhic, 6-3 junior; Evan Francisco, 6-2 junior.
Ramapo road to final: Beat Montville, 69-43; West Milford, 73-53; Wayne Hills, 57-38; Teaneck, 65-40; Colonia, 35-32.
Coach: Joe Sandberg.
Previous state titles: 0.
Players to watch: Neal Quinn, 6-11 senior; Kyle Hroncich, 5-9 senior; K.C. Hunt, 6-4 senior; Max Peretti, 6-5 senior.
Pick: Ramapo, 60-58.
Burlington City (22-8) vs. New Providence (28-3), 7 p.m.
Burlington City road to final: Beat Manville, 84-30; Middlesex, 72-56; Bound Brook, 62-56; Willingboro, 81-62; Clayton, 79-62.
Coach: Paul Collins.
Previous state titles: 2 (1966, 2002).
Players to watch: Deonte Woodbury, 6-2 junior; Mike Green, 6-4 senior; Amir Landrum, 6-2 senior; Jahsanti Santiago-Tucker, 6-2 senior.
New Providence road to final: Beat Weehawken, 61-54; Shabazz, 83-61; Dayton, 60-58; American History, 49-46; Wood-Ridge, 62-43.
Coach: Art Cattano.
Players to watch: Dylan Bedder, 6-6 senior; Sean Dillon, 5-10 senior; Brian Kelly, 6-1 senior.