DeBerardinis one of MVC's best ever

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Mon Valley Catholic had its share of outstanding basketball players in its 27-year existence from 1960 to 1987.

There was no question that Patsy DeBerardinis topped the list.

A 1968 graduate from Donora, DeBerardinis stands out as the lone 1,000 point scorer in the school's history.

Besides finishing a three-year varsity career with 1,346 points, the 5-11 DeBerardinis set school single-game marks with 44 points against Hampton and 29 rebounds against Charleroi.

He also had the distinction of being the lone Spartan selected to play in the prestigious Roundball Classic at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. He was a member of the City-Catholic Stars, who dropped a 97-79 decision to West Penn in front of 13,266 fans in the preliminary contest.

Ironically, one of the West Penn coaches was Donora's Fran LaMendola.

Despite being a record-setter and two-time all-stater at Mon Valley Catholic, DeBerardinis wasn't a happy camper at the parochial school.

He had a good excuse after playing a couple of summers on a powerhouse Donora team in the Mon Valley YMCA League with friends like Ken Griffey, Bernie Galiffa, Malcolm and Dennis Lomax, Bill Paraschak, Keith James and Russell Tyree.

“We didn't lose a game in two years,” smiled DeBerardinis.

While the ‘68 Donora High team was good enough to go undefeated until losing to Laurel Highlands in the WPIAL championship game at the Civic Arena, DeBerardinis had to carry the load for the Spartans in the rugged Pittsburgh Catholic League against much bigger schools like Central Catholic, North Catholic, South Hills Catholic and Canevin to name a few.

DeBerardinis also had a hard act to follow since his oldest brother, Gene, starred in basketball and baseball at Donora before becoming an All-American cager at St. Francis College in Loretto.

Another older brother, Paul, graduated in 1962 from MVC after starring on the basketball court.

“I wanted to go to Donora but my parents wouldn't let me,” he claimed. “When I was in ninth grade I tried to get kicked out of school by cussing at a nun. Father (Hugh)Lang (the school's headmaster) talked to my parents but nothing happened. Dr. (Michael ) Herk, the Donora High principal, and coach LaMendola even came to my house about me attending Donora but my parents didn't want to hear it.”

“It still irks me today that I didn't get to play at Donora and for my last two years at Mon Valley I had to play out of position at center instead of guard. My last year Dave Dolfi and I were the only seniors on the team. Mon Valley didn't have an activities bus then so kids from out of town didn't come out.”

After Mon Valley, DeBerardinis attended perennial junior college power Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Fla. He averaged 13 points and one of the team's wins was over Gardner-Webb, which featured 7-2 Artis Gilmore. Gilmore went on to star in the ABA and NBA and make the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Following two years at Indian River, DeBerardinis transferred to Slippery Rock.

“I wanted to go to California State College but coach (Myles) Witchey wanted four-year players instead of two year players,” he said.

He wasn't at the Rock long.

“I stayed a month or two,” he said. “There were 30 players out so the coach had us running cross-country to get the number down. I wanted to teach and coach basketball but my friends were all making a lot more money in the mill so I quit school and then got married. I quit school with 73 credits.”

Now 62, DeBerardinis took an early retirement four years ago after 15 years as a maintenance worker at the State Corrections Institution in Greensburg.

His first job was working in the blast furnace at U.S. Steel in Homestead followed by 17 years at Combustion Engineering and five years in construction.

He has two daughters, Dena Colditz and Lisa Riley, in Ohio and a son, Brad, in Belle Vernon.

Brian Herman is a freelance writer.

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