1963-64 SPHS Winning Streak Halted by Loss at Dunellen

Continuing a look back at the 1963-64 South Plainfield Boys Basketball team’s historic season, GMC Hoops focuses on the only loss suffered by the Tigers. The 1963-64 SPHS winning streak was halted by a loss at Dunellen on February 22, 1964. The dominant 18-game winning streak put together by the Tigers was stopped with an upset loss to the Destroyers, 63-59 at Dunellen High School.

Dunellen Halts SPHS Winning Streak–The Particulars

South Plainfield (18-0) @ Dunellen
Where: Dunellen High School Gym (Known Today as Mike Shello Gymnasium)
Capacity: 250 seat gym
When: Friday, February 22, 1964
Time: 7:00 PM
South Plainfield Head Coach: Anthony Cotoia
Dunellen Head Coach: Mike Shello

1963-64 South Plainfield Tigers–Team Roster

Player Name Position Height
Laney McLaughlin Center 6’7″
Greg Cisson Forward 6’4 1/2″
Richie Steele Guard 5’11”
Roger Catarino Guard 5’10”
Wally Cirafesi Guard 6’1 1/2″
Louis Calderone Guard 5’9″
Ward Spisso Guard/Forward 6’2″
Bob Fulton Guard 5’11”
Greg Burgoyne Guard 6’0″
Artie Bierns Guard 6’0″
Richie DeVito Guard 5’9″
Bobby Yackanin Guard 6’0″
Billy Piotrowski Forward/Center 6’5″

1963-64 Dunellen Destroyers–Team Roster

Player Name Position Height
Tom Marren Forward 6’4″
Bob Benner Forward 6’3″
Jim Robinson Guard/Forward 6’1″
Jack Mackenzie Guard/Forward 6’0″
Jim Ayers Guard/Forward 6’1″
Bob Sterling Guard 5’11”
Bill Hughes Guard 5’10”
Jack Addicks Forward 6’1″
Jim Wyckoff Guard 6’0″

Heading into the Dunellen Game–1963-64 South Plainfield Tigers

Prior to taking the trip to Dunellen High School to take on the Destroyers in this faithful game, South Plainfield had been rolling. The Tigers had won 18 games in a row, and was one of five undefeated boys basketball teams in New Jersey. South Plainfield had bolstered its Star-Ledger ranking from 14th to 4th. In addition, 16 of the 18 wins had come by double figures with an average margin of victory of just under 21 points per game.

Previous Meetings

This was the only contest between South Plainfield and Dunellen during the 1963-64 season. However, the Tigers and Destroyers met previously during the 1962-63 season, and Dunellen also won that game. South Plainfield would avenge the two Dunellen defeats the following season with a 66-43 victory at SPHS (Now South Plainfield Middle School) in late February 1965. The 1964-65 Tigers’ victory marked the first time they had beaten the Destroyers since the 1961-62 season.

Did You Know?

Dunellen High School was a power in Group I and Group II boys basketball during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The Destroyers won state titles in 1943, 1946, and 1959. Playing in 8 state championship games from 1943 to 1962, Dunellen was 3-5 in those contests. The Destroyers also won a Central Jersey Group II Championship in 1968. Dunellen would not play in a sectional final again until the 2019-20 season.

Dunellen Halts SPHS Winning Streak–The Game

According to an article written by Tom Gannon of the South Plainfield Suburban Review from February 27, 1964, the Tigers were able to take a tenuous 17-15 lead after one period.

However, Dunellen wrestled control from the game for good with not only a 18-15 showing in the second quarter, but also a 14-6 effort in the decisive third period. Leading 33-32 heading into the second half, the Destroyers began the 3rd with buckets from Bob Benner and Tom Marren, and after a Tiger score, reeled off eight straight points to cap a 12-2 spurt for a 45-34 lead.

South Plainfield, which was without sophomore Wally Cirafesi, was limited to only 6 points in the crucial third period. On top of that, big man, Laney McLaughlin was limited to 9 points on 3 field goals and 3 free throws by the tough Dunellen defense. Roger Catarino was also held in check with just 7 points. The Tigers would make a run in the fourth to make things interesting though.

Led by reserve, Bobby Fulton, who played in place of Cirafesi, South Plainfield outscored Dunellen by a 21-16 margin in the final frame. The Tigers even closed the gap to one at 60-59 as Fulton scored 8 straight points to finish with 12 in the contest. Greg Cisson and McLaughlin added four and two points respectively during a dramatic 14-2 rally late in the fourth.

Unfortunately, the Tigers couldn’t get any closer. Jim Ayers sank two free throws and Bob Sterling made one as well for his only points of the game to seal the Destroyer win. The 1963-64 SPHS winning streak was halted by a loss at Dunellen, 63-59.

Line Score

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Total
Dunellen 15 18 14 16 63
South Plainfield (18-1) 17 15 6 21 59

Team Stats

Category Dunellen South Plainfield
Field Goals Made 27 22
Free Throws Made 9 15
Score 63 59
Number of Players Scored 6 5
Number of Players Scoring in Double Figures 3 3
Number of Players With 20 Points or More 1 0
Percentage of Team Scoring by Players in Double Figures 77.7% 72.9%
Biggest Runs of the Game 12-2 in 3rd 14-2 in 4th

1963-64 SPHS Winning Streak Ends--SPHS Tigers  South Plainfield Box Score

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1963-64 SPHS Winning Streak Ends--Dunellen Destroyers  Dunellen Box Score

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