By Rob Potter
ROSCOE February 14, 2006 The banner that the Roscoe Central School cheerleaders held up following Thursday nights non-league boys basketball game against visiting Margaretville said it all.
400 Congratulations!! Coach, Grandpa, Dad!! read the banner congratulating Roscoe Coach Fred Ahart for recording his 400th hoops victory.
Ahart, who began coaching the varsity boys basketball team at RCS in the 1969-1970 season, achieved his milestone when the Blue Devils defeated Margaretville, 68-60. Dozens of family members, community members and former players stood up and cheered for the veteran coach when the final buzzer sounded.
After the traditional postgame handshake between the players and coaches, RCS Superintendent Carmine Giangreco stepped up to the microphone at the scorers table. He thanked Ahart for his 37 years of teaching and coaching in the district and congratulated the man whom many at RCS and in the Roscoe area simply call Coach for achieving the milestone of 400 wins.
Giangreco then presented Ahart with the game ball.
Ahart became only the third Section IX basketball coach to record 400 victories. The other two are retired James I. ONeill Coach Jerry Kaplan, who recorded 560 Ws in his long career, and Red Hook Coach Rod Chando, who has 507 victories and counting.
In addition, just 80 coaches have reached that plateau in New York State scholastic hoops history going into the current season.
During his 37 years at the helm of the Blue Devils basketball program, Ahart has guided his teams to five Western Sullivan League titles (1983-84, 84-85, 85-86, 88-89 and 97-98) and three Section IX championships (83-84, 85-86, 97-98). His best season in terms of wins and losses was in 83-84, when the Blue Devils posted a 22-3 record and reached the Class D state semifinals.
Among those who congratulated Ahart following the game were several former players, including Lou Farragher, who was one of the key players on the 83-84 team, and Jason Semo, who is the head coach of the Tri-Valley Central School varsity boys basketball team.
Ahart, not surprisingly, credited many people for playing a key role in helping him to reach the victory milestone.
Certainly, I want to thank all the players weve had here over those years and all of the assistant coaches, Ahart said. Of course, I also appreciate the support from Becky and the rest of my family.
Becky is Freds wife and the longtime coach of the Roscoe Lady Blue Devils basketball teams. The couples five children Maryanne Ahart-Clancy, Ralph Ahart, Michelle Ahart-Bosland, Katie Ahart and Kelly Ahart all graduated from RCS. Ralph played basketball for his father in the late 1980s and early 90s.
Since family has always been very important to the veteran coach, it was only fitting that John Clancy, who is one of Fred and Becky Aharts 10 grandchildren and the son of Maryanne and her husband John, was the Blue Devils leading scorer in Thursday nights game. He netted 17 points in the Roscoe Blue Devils historic win over the Margaretville Blue Devils.
All of the Ahart children except for Kelly, who is the starting point guard for the womens basketball team at College Misericordia in Dallas, Pa., were in the stands to witness their fathers milestone win.
And Becky Ahart was sitting at the scorers table, recording every basket, foul and timeout of the historic game in the official RCS scorebook.
Along with Pete DeVantier, who has served as the Roscoe JV boys basketball coach and varsity assistant for the past several seasons, Aharts assistants/JV coaches over the years have included Bill Hendrickson, Dave Rosetti, Stan Martin, Ed Park and Bill Knipscher.
In addition, Chris Hubert, Tom Fersch and Tom Roseo also served as RCS assistant coaches in seasons past.
Ahart also thanked the late Gene Cheplick and the late Al Sullivan, both of whom he said really helped me in my first years at Roscoe. Cheplick coached the RCS football and golf teams, while Sullivan coached the RCS baseball and cross country teams.
A Battle of Blue Devils
In the game itself, Roscoe (6-11) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes. But Margaretville (6-13) stormed back to cut the home teams advantage to 15-14 at the end of the opening period.
Roscoe outscored Margaretville 22-12 in the second quarter to take a 37-26 lead into the locker room.
Twice in the third period, Margaretville, a Section IV Class D school from Delaware County, cut the Roscoe lead to five points. But the home team Blue Devils responded to the challenge and took an eight-point lead into the final stanza.
With 4:12 remaining, Margaretvilles Shane Delameter scored inside the lane to bring his team to within a basket at 53-51.
After a timeout, Roscoe senior guard Lance Brookins made what was perhaps the most important basket of the evening. With the shot clock winding down, Brookins saved the basketball from going out of bounds right in front of the Roscoe bench. In one motion, Brookins grabbed the ball and shot it with one second remaining on the 35-second shot clock. The basketball calmly fell through the net, eliciting an extremely loud cheer from the Roscoe faithful.
Seconds later, senior guard Dan DeVantier made a pair of foul shots to extend the Roscoe lead to 58-51.
Seventeen seconds after swishing those free throws, DeVantier drilled a 3-point shot from the top of the key to push his teams lead to 61-51.
While John Clancy led the Roscoe offense with 17 points, DeVantier added 16 points, Troy Kirchner recorded 13 points, Jayson Harris had 11 points and Brookins finished with nine points.
Delameter, a sophomore center, paced the Margaretville attack with a double-double of 21 points and 20 rebounds. Tom Vitro and Casey Moore added 15 and 11 points, respectively, for Margaretville.
Margaretville Coach Greg Johns, who is in his ninth year of coaching hoops, was disappointed his team lost the game but also happy to be a part of the historic night.
Fred always has a competitive team, said Johns, who has coached against Ahart several times in the past few seasons when the two teams have met in non-league contests. Hes a very classy coach.
Hes a great example of what high school sports are supposed to be about, Johns continued. Hes a class act.