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Photo Op - Mar 2021

REAL March Madness - 58 Years Ago Today - The Night of the Riot

[Restored from the Ken Tashian Email Archives, originally published on 03/16/21]

OK, OK, enough.  I've heard from enough of you that my math is off, but I have an excuse.  First, I recalculated the dates, and yes, it was 58 years ago.  I'll be 75 this coming August, so what's the big deal about being 10 years off?

Second, I had Miss Behr for math and algebra.  It was VERY difficult to concentrate.  

Also, Jeff Perry sent me a correction.  Paramus beat Don Bosco when they won the Bergen County Jamboree, not Ridgewood.  I should have remembered that because Don Bosco had an outstanding player named Mickey Vaughn who scored 78 points in three games in that tournament, and set a record for making 28 foul shots, a record that stood for many years.  A side note, I think he dated my girlfriend at the time who had a similar name.  That has never been confirmed, at least not just yet.

After a year without NCAA March Madness, its back with my favorite team "The Zags" with the #1 seed.  Hopefully, it's a sign that things just might return to "normal" by late summer.

Two years ago, I wrote a special on the history of Spartan basketball with a focus on that golden season of 1962/63 when an undersized group of kids coached by Herb Hoeland defeated powerhouses Hackensack, Don Bosco, and mighty Englewood.  Hackensack had Ron Hill (averaged 25 point per game in 1963), and Englewood had Ron Oram (scored 51 points in the 1961 Bergen County Jamboree game).  They were bigger, faster, and more experienced players, but Paramus was a better "team" under the leadership of Coach Herb Hoeland, and the court generalship of Jeff Perry, short in stature, but a giant on the court with exceptional ball handling skills.  Paramus won the NNJIL, and the Bergen County Jamboree Championship (71 - 61 over Ridgewood), but lost a heartbreaker to Audubon 53 - 50 in the state final played at the Atlantic City Convention Hall.


Part of the history of that season included what the press termed a "riot" between Englewood and Paramus fans at Ridgewood High School during the early round of the State Championship.  I wasn't planning to highlight that season or the events of that night, but when I read Jeff Perry's ('64) Facebook post that included a copy of the front page of The Times Record from Troy, NY, it seemed worthy of being republished.  I had no idea that the news of this event travelled that far.

Sorry for the poor quality.




Below are copies of the press clipping of games on the way to the State Championship.  The game against Englewood played at Ridgewood High School is worth reading again.  It was called a riot, and it was.  If we had iPhones back then, the number of hits would have been incalculable.


Win Over Hackensack for NNJIL Title








On to Ridgewood to Play Englewood
Paramus Wins 47-46

The Night of the Riot

That was the season when Paramus defeated Englewood in one of the early rounds of the State Tournament at Ridgewood High School.  The press reported it as a riot, and that it was.  At the final buzzer, many Englewood fans stormed the court, and pounded the Paramus players with sticks, cow bells, and anything in their possession that could be used as a weapon.

Paramus fans joined in the fight that quickly took on riot status.  Don Sanns (Class of '63), always ready for a duke out was on the court and in the thick of things before I could get out of my seat.  Jimmy Pierri ('65), a very good friend of mine, and a person not to be fooled with, was quick to join the melee.  He ended up with a concussion. 

Jerry Giampetruzzi's ('64) head was bloodied, and was transported to Valley Hospital with sign of a concussion.  Chuck Grabina ('63) was pounded unmercifully, and suffered heads wounds as well.  This is part of Paramus' history that most would like to forget, but if you were in the stands that night, you knew that you were witnessing a full-on riot.  People feared for their lives.  Even the police on duty reported that they felt lucky that they weren't killed.  You hear much about fake news these days.  This was real.










On to Seton Hall to Play Berkeley Heights
Paramus Wins 61-45

Sports officials and local police decided to move the next game out of Bergen County for safety and security reasons.  It became a true road game as we traveled to Seton Hall to play Berkeley Heights. 

When Paramus was introduced, out came Jerry Giampetruzzi and Chuck Grabina with their heads bandaged.  Jerry's bandage look more like a skull cap than a dressing.  The team looked battered and bruised, recovering from a one point victory over Englewood just three days earlier that came at a personal cost to everyone on the team. 

As they stood there bandaged and bruised while the Star Spangled Banner played, it became a scene straight out of 1776.  The picture below came to mind.  Those kids looked like they survived a battle, which they did.  I will never forget the emotion that filled that gym on that historical night when the team may have played what might have been their best game of the season, defeating Berkeley Heights 61-45.



On to Atlantic City to Play Audubon

Paramus Loses 53 - 50

Lew Halpern (#40) - Jeff Perry (#4)

It was a tough loss, a nail biter until the very end.  Jeff Perry played an outstanding, directing the offense, and playing a tight defense.  Sharp shooter Lew Halpern, who had a 1,000+ point career had an off night, but played with heart.  Without exception, the entire team left all they had on the court at Convention Hall that night. 

It was a great season!