Memories were made during the 1963 Wheeling Central Catholic High School’s boys’ basketball season that Maroon Knights’ fans will cherish forever..
Coached by Earl Haberfield, already a member of the CCHS Athletic Hall of Fame,Central Catholic turned in a 23-0 record, becoming the school’s first basketball team to achieve a perfect season. More than a half-century later they continue to reign as Wheeling Central’s only undefeated boys’ basketball team. This feat resulted in the 1963 team to be inducted into Central Catholic’s Hall of Fame.
Team members included: John ‘Butch’ Erb, Al Salvadori, Charles ‘Chuck’ Lovinski, Paul Klenowski, Joe Doerr, Jay Duffy, Denny Deegan, Tom Abraham, Stan Kaniecki, Ray Powell, Ray Flanagan, Larry Romine and George Altmeyer Jr.
The Maroon Knights not only won the West Virginia Catholic Tournament, but also they earned a top 20 berth in the National Catholic High School rankings. Central also was voted as the No. 1 team in the state of West Virginia (all classes) and were OVAC and City champions. Salvadori and Erb earned all-state recognition.
The highlight of the regular season was a pair of victories over a powerhouse Weir High School team. They were the only two losses handed to the Fritz Williams-led Red Riders’ squad that finished 25-2 and won the West Virginia Class AAA championship. In the state Catholic tournament, the Maroon Knights rolled 77-47 over Parkersburg Catholic; 72-46 over Clarksburg Notre Dame and 66-62 against tournament host Huntington St. Joseph.
Several of the players went on to star at various sports in college and beyond. Salvadori and Erb played Division 1 basketball at the University of South Carolina and New Orleans based Loyola of the South respectively. Both also had brief flings in pro basketball.
Lovinski was recruited as a quarterback at West Virginia University. Doerr played two years of baseball at West Liberty University and was the leading hitter in the national finals as a freshman in 1964 when the Hilltoppers won the NAIA championship. He also signed a pro contract and played two years in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Duffy also played at West Liberty, while Abraham and Kaniecki lettered at Bethany College and Deegan played at Wheeling Jesuit University.