Saturday February 9, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- It was the mid-1980s. Hoosac Valley High School girls basketball coach Ron Wojcik was a young graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, back in his hometown.

He had just started a new job, and a few of his co-workers mentioned a pick-up basketball game at the Pittsfield CYC on Sunday mornings. Wojcik, who had starred at Pittsfield High School and WPI, thought it was a good idea -- a way to stay in shape, and school some of these local guys.

"So I stopped by, and there was a bunch of guys there," he recalled. "And one of them was this old guy. And he was kind of out-of-shape a little. I remember thinking, ‘Man, I'm going to take this guy to the hoop!' "

Not only did Wojcik not take the old guy to the hole, but the old guy was burying jumpers from all over the court.

"He was just drilling shots," said Wojcik with a laugh. "He had incredible range. And he almost never missed! I couldn't believe it."

After the game, Wojcik of course began asking some of the other players who the old guy was.

"And they said, ‘Man, that's Frankie Scago,' " said Wojcik. "The all-time leading scorer in the county."

"And I have to tell you," said Wojcik. "I thought, shoot, I can see that! This guy was in his mid-40s, was out of shape and could still play! No wonder he was a legend."

Scago, who died in 2010 at age 62, is no longer the all-time leading scorer in the county, although there is little doubt he is still a legend. He is presently third all-time, with 1,520 points. But right behind him is Taverick "Tank" Roberson, another St. Joseph standout, with 1,496 points. He figures to break Scago's record at some point in the next few games, perhaps tonight at the Boys and Girls Club or Tuesday night at Lee.

And Roberson, according to St. Joseph coach Paul Brindle, understands what he is about to do.

"It's always been my philosophy that these kids should know the history," said Brindle. "They know Frank Scago, and [former St. Joe standouts] Tim Connally and Mickey Mahoney. Tank has a chance to be the all-time leader at St. Joseph High School, a school with a tremendous basketball tradition. That means something to him."

Brindle, who for several years was the all-time leading scorer at Taconic, admitted that there is a lot of Paul Brindle in Roberson.

"He's not a big guy," said Brindle of Roberson. "He's a small guard, like I was. And when I was playing I knew all about [former Taconic stars] Roger Hamilton and Larry King. And I wanted to win. I always wanted to win. But in the end, I wanted to be the all-time scorer at Taconic, another school with a great
tradition."

Beyond Scago, former Hoosac Valley star Chad Misiuk is next, with 1,584 points. The top of the mountain, at the No. 1 boys spot, is former PHS guard Sedale Jones, with 1,984 points. Misiuk's total is a possibility for Roberson. Jones, much less so.

Wojcik, who coached Jones, said that he rarely heard Jones speak of scoring totals.

"No," said Wojcik. "The only time it ever came up was when I brought it up. When he scored 1,000 points, or broke the school record, I'd say to him, ‘Okay, when you break the record tonight, we'll stop the game, give you the game ball and try to build off that moment.' And he'd say, ‘Yeah, yeah, okay.' "

Misiuk was equally unimpressed, according to his coach, Bill Robinson.

"Are you kidding?" said Robinson. "No way. Win the game. That was Chad."

Brindle shies away from comparisons.

"Who really cares?" he said. "But I've seen a lot of players come and go, and I believe that at the end of the day, Tank has a chance to be one of the outstanding players in the history of the county. And this is a county with a great basketball history."

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @derekgentile.