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Baldwin coaches organize three-day charity alumni basketball event

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
randy jarosz | for the south hills record
Baldwin girls' head basketball coach Gavin Prosser, at right, shown in a huddle with the Lady Highlanders during the 2012-13 season, has teamed up with assistant coach Zach Ferguson, at left, to organize the inaugural Western Pennsylvania Charity Alumni Basketball Tournament to be held Nov. 1 to 3 at Baldwin High School.

It's being billed as the Western Pennsylvania Charity Alumni Basketball Tournament and is a charity event for the benefit of Children's Hospital.

The three-day tournament will take place from Nov. 1-3 in the main and small gyms at Baldwin High School.

In it, former players from several area schools — Baldwin, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, Chartiers Valley, Central Catholic, Steel Valley, West Mifflin and Hampton — will participate in a series of games.

Gavin Prosser, coach of the Baldwin girls basketball team, and assistant Zach Ferguson planned and organized the tournament.

“The goal is to reunite past WPIAL basketball players with teammates, and the players they competed against, for a weekend of fun and competitive basketball while raising money for a good cause,” Prosser said. “All the money we raise through entry fees, fan admission, concession stand, 50/50s and donations will be given to Children's Hospital.

“The more people we can get into the gym, the better the atmosphere will be and the more money we will be able to raise. This is a one-of-a-kind event, and we are hoping that people will come out in support of Children's Hospital and the game of basketball.”

Prosser, the all-time leading scorer in basketball at Baldwin, and Ferguson were teammates on the Point Park men's basketball team.

They are best of friends, and both are 28 years old. They initiated this tournament as an offseason project.

“A lot of the players who will be participating come up to Baldwin and play in pickup games with Zach and I,” Prosser said. “We started talking one day about ‘the good old days' of high school basketball and about the fact that we played with or against the majority of these same guys in high school. Zach mentioned to me how he thought basketball fans in the area might be interested in seeing past players from rival schools compete against each other again, and that is where the idea for the tournament was born.”

Ferguson, who is employed in materials management at U.S. Steel Clairton Works, played high school basketball at Hampton. He is a fixture on the bench alongside Prosser during Baldwin girls basketball games.

“Everyone misses competing, whether high school or college level, so we thought of this (tournament),” Ferguson said. “Gavin and I started contacting schools, friends and families. Everyone loved the idea, and we haven't looked back since.

“We have received tremendous help along the way planning this event.”

Prosser is manager of the Point Park University recreation center and also serves as an assistant coach at the school.

“Everyone we spoke with about our plans thought it was a great idea, so we decided to run with it. The administration at Baldwin, (superintendent) Dr. Randy Lutz and (athletic director) Vince Sortino, among others, have been so great in helping us with anything we have asked of them. A lot of credit for getting this together goes to them, as well.”

Tickets will be available at the door at a cost of $5 per day or $10 for the weekend.

Along with the basketball games, there will be 50/50 raffles, half-court shooting contests, music, a concession stand and a Saturday night social at Coach's Bottleshop located in the Kuhn's shopping plaza on Banksville Road.

“We knew there was potential to make money from holding a tournament like this, but we were never looking to make a profit,” Prosser said. “We saw it as an opportunity to give back to our community.

“We are hoping that the success of the tournament this year will lead to a bigger and better tournament next year and in the years to follow.”

Many people have helped out in the planning process for Prosser and Ferguson.

“We have received tremendous help along the way (in) planning this event,” Ferguson said. “Special thanks goes out to Jim Julian for coordinating and organizing all the referees.

“To be honest, since this is our first tournament, we just hope a lot of people show up because all proceeds will go to Children's Hospital.”

Each player in the tournament will represent his former high school. Players expected to participate so far include:

• BALDWIN: Prosser (Point Park), Steve Douglas (Pitt Bradford), Jerome Maxshure (La Roche), Josip Lucic (Washington and Jefferson), Joe Suchy (Wheeling Jesuit), Ryan Dedes.

• UPPER ST. CLAIR: Dale Meinbresse (Quinnipiac), Ryan Murray (Westminster), Andrew Atman (Buffalo).

• HAMPTON: Ferguson (Point Park), Ryan Hauck (Westminster), John Benca (Slippery Rock — football), Bob Bartley (Gannon — football), Dan Obermeir (Davidson — baseball).

• WEST MIFFLIN: Bryant McAllister (Duquesne), Chris Giles (Seton Hill), Quinton Davis (Pitt-Johnstown).

• MT. LEBANON: Tyler Bluemling (Duquesne), Geoff Kessler (Princeton), Alex Warren, Bill Babe (Allegheny).

• CENTRAL CATHOLIC: Sean Crummie (Yale), Kyle Goldcamp (Gannon), Steve Buches (Pitt — football), Drew Garcia (Tulane), Dan Waajid (Pitt Johnstown), Chris Saltzman (Penn State Behrend).

• CHARTIERS VALLEY: Mike Sherry (Clarion), Steve Profeta (St. Francis, Pa.).

• STEEL VALLEY: Ray Gilespie (Waynesburg).

“The age range of the players is between 21 and 35 years old and, for the most part, all of the participants are still in great shape,” Ferguson said. “Fans can expect to see high-scoring, fast-paced games. And I'm sure from time to time, knowing the players in this tournament, you will see some spectacular dunks.”

The tournament tips off with four games Nov. 1. The games are scheduled to take place hourly with the following first-round matchups:

6 p.m. — Upper St. Clair vs. Chartiers Valley

7 p.m. — Hampton vs. Central Catholic

8 p.m. — Steel Valley vs. West Mifflin

9 p.m. — Baldwin vs. Mt. Lebanon

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or

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