RFA looks impressive in win over Auburn


Last Tuesday, I was back home in Rome so I went to the Rome Free Academy/Auburn varsity boys basketball game.


Watching the Black Knights play is more entertaining than going to the Carrier Dome to watch the Syracuse Orange.

The Black Knights, who are coached by Nick Medicis, won their 12th straight game with a 94-87 victory over a very good Auburn team.

RFA is No. 25 in New York State rankings by sportswriters of large schools.

I had a great time visiting some old basketball friends at the game.

Don Alvarez, a teammate of mine at St. Mary’s back in 1962. Tom Barry, who rode the Catholic School bus in 1960 with me and Steve Campbell, who coached my boys at Rome Catholic High back in the 1990s. We loved watching RFA get up and down the court.

Tom Hoke was at the junior varsity game watching his grandson play. Justin Hoke looks like a keeper and he is also a very good lacrosse player.

TJ Behlin scored 26 points, but what impressed me the most is how he scores in traffic. A bad shot for most is a basket for him.

Ethan Powell scored 24 points and he runs the floor with blinding speed. He is so quick off his feet to get rebound points too.

Gavin Mosher gets his baskets in the paint with a soft touch, but I liked the way he blocks shots.

Tristin Hunzinger is best known for being the quarterback on the football team. I loved his mid-range pull-up jump shot which seems to be a lost art in our three-point world of high school hoops. 

My scouting report: The first person to get a good shot puts it up. They are very unselfish and get out on the fast break. They are very intense on the offensive glass and even though they are not tall in the paint they “out-quick” people for the rebound. They remind me of Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) “Running Rebels” from back in the 80s.

Food of the week: “When in Rome, eat like the Romans do.” I have been eating at Teddy’s, Dippin Donuts, CPJ’s, Savoy, Big Daddy’s and Eddie’s. I just love food in my hometown.

Dan Mumpton passed away last week. He was a very close friend of mine who lived life to its fullest. He married my wife Nancy’s best friend from childhood, Pat Ryan, after he lost his wife (Paulette) who had four children. Pat had two little girls and also lost her husband Bud to cancer, so we nicknamed the family “The Brady Bunch.” How they raised six children to grow up to be amazing adults is a tribute to mom and dad.

Their six children were all athletes, with three going to RCH and three to RFA. Becky was a cheerleader for the Redwings and Sarah played basketball for Coach Jackie Izzo. Michelle was on the track team. Gail, Jennifer and Danny were in skiing, softball and soccer for the Black Knights.

Rome sports nickname: Jennifer Mumpton Smaldon, “Dirt.” Her dad gave her this nickname because she was an outstanding catcher in softball.

Dan loved his New York Giants and Yankees. He played a little football at Valley Forge Academy and was an avid golfer. His friends at Teugega Country Club will miss his Irish personality and green attire he would wear. His driver even had a leprechaun head cover.

I am going to miss playing golf with him so much.


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