1974 German Township Basketball

Sometimes a bitter defeat can fuel great things. That is the case with German Township’s 1974-74 WPIAL basketball champs.


In 1973-74, the Uhlans posted a 16-6 record and won the section title. They suffered a 2-point
loss to Edgewood in the WPIAL title game and almost advanced to the PIAA title game until
they fell to Ferndale 73-49.

That loss to Edgewood still haunts German coach Ed Colebank.

“Going back to the year before,” Colebank explained. “We were winning the ballgame I think it
was 49-48 with 43 seconds to go. We were doing a five man freeze to use up the clock and one
of our players broke the ten second line and went to the corner, the official made the call that we
didn't make an emphasis to the basket and he continued with a five second call and we had a
jump ball. My player who was smaller than the Edgewood player, but we thought he would
control the tip. We didn't play back on defense, which is a coaching mistake by me. The boy
from Edgewood got the tip and tipped it to his player and they got down the floor and beat us on
a layup.”

With only Ralph Still and Spencer Epps as returning starters in 1973-74, the Uhlans went 16-7
and won another section title. They avenged the loss to Edgewood the previous season, and in
the WPIAL Class C championship game.

“We had five guys that knew that we could win,” Still said. “Everybody had a role to play;
Spencer Epps was our center and he got rebounds and he almost put up a double double every
night. Howard Freeman was our defensive stalwart and we had Mike Manchas who was also a
defensive player and our point guard Ray Jordan. We just knew that we had a good team, that
team was a junior high team that went 23-1.”

The Uhlans were paced by Still who poured in 647 points that season an average of 28.1 ppg.,
and captured district scoring honors. Epps tallied 329 points for an average of 14.3 ppg.

“Coach Colebank had taken us to the championship game the year before,” Still offered.
“Everybody had confidence that he was going to take us there again. The year before he was
injured in an accident at home and was burned, but he came back by the end of the season and
he guided us to the championship game and almost to the state championship that year.”

“Ralph was always a good shooter and rebounder, he could handle the ball quite well,”
Colebank stated. “He was a pretty good team leader. Spencer Epps was a great rebounder and
was a key to our fastbreak.”

The Uhlans were 6-6 in exhibition play before posting an 8-0 mark in Section 18 play.

“The key game was we went to Bentworth and lost 73-71,” Colebank recalled. “I went in the
locker room and told them we would not lose another game in section play and we didn't.”

German rolled into the WPIAL playoffs and avenged the loss to Edgewood the year before. Still
poured in a then WPIAL record 40 points in the 68-58 win at Trinity High School in Washington,
PA. Epps backed Still's effort with 15 points on the night.

Still has a vivid memory of his record setting 40 point performance against Edgewood.

“There is a story behind that,” Still explained. “Edgewood’s coach came to scout us at our last
game of the season against Mapletown. He didn’t know that he was sitting next to my brother.
My brother told him that all he does is just shoot from outside. That was senior night and I was a
junior and coach started all seniors and I really didn’t get a chance to get in the flow and we
were losing after the first quarter. He didn’t get a good scouting report on me. Edgewood had
beaten us the year before. We were ready for them. That night against them was a night that
everything I put up went in. Everything went right and I hit almost everything that night.”

The Uhlans defeated Cambridge Springs in the PIAA playoffs 67-64. German trailed from the
first quarter until 15 seconds remained in pulling out the win. Still led the Uhlans with 34 points.
German was bounced out of the Class C PIAA tourney by Union 66-55, despite a 29 point effort
from Still.

“We won one before we lost,” Still said. “It was a disappointing loss because we felt that we
could win that one too. When you don't see somebody and you don't have any film and you
don't know who you're playing, it was basically the same thing that happened to us the year
before when we lost. We had a slow first quarter and the first quarter cost us the game both

“Union played a 2-3 zone,” Colebank recalled. “We couldn't penetrate and we couldn't get any
offense rebounds. Most of our shooting was on the side or down in the corners.”

German very easily could have won back-to-back WPIAL titles.

“My only regret was the play against Edgewood the year before,” Colebank said. “We could
have had two WPIAL titles in a row if I had thought a little bit differently. The next year the boys
did well and came through for us.”


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