Gregg Downer, Lower Merion's all-time wins leader, headlines the 2010 Hall of Fame Class
Lower Merion Basketball will honor its 2010 William H. Anderson Hall of Fame Class during an induction ceremony and dinner on Saturday, December 18th at the new Lower Merion High School. This year's Hall of Fame honorees are Al Bonniwell '30, Ira Rich '40, Michael Holland '67, Gerald Mills '74, Gregg Long '75, Michael Venafra '01, Sarah Lowe '02 and current boys head coach Gregg Downer.
The Hall of Fame event is part of a full weekend of activities that celebrate Lower Merion Basketball and Lower Merion Athletics. On Thursday, December 16th, the Lower Merion community will officially dedicate the school's gymnasium as the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium during a public ceremony. On Friday, December 17th, alumni and friends are invited to attend the Los Angeles Lakers-Philadelphia 76ers basketball game at the Wells Fargo Center. On Saturday, December 18th, the basketball program will host an Alumni Game at the high school. Additional details and registration information for all of these events are available by clicking here
and online registration is available here
Nearly 1,800 young men and women have taken the court for the Maroon & White since the turn of the last century; members of the Hall of Fame represent the most accomplished and respected student-athletes and coaches in the proud history of Aces Basketball. The eight individuals being honored this year have helped define the Lower Merion Basketball legacy across multiple generations. Members of the 2010 Hall of Fame class include:
Al Bonniwell '30 – Starred for LM's first State Finalist and first District title team in 1930. NCAA First Team All-American, First Team All-Ivy League at Dartmouth College. Became Lower Merion's first professional basketball player when he was drafted by the NBL's Akron Firestone Non-Skids in 1937.
Ira Rich '40 -- First Team All-State in 1940 for LM team that reach Eastern Finals. 2nd Team All State in 1939 when he helped lead team to the State Finals. Was first African American named PIAA First Team All-State. Legendary rebounder, led Maroon & White in scoring during two playoff campaigns.
Michael Holland '67 – Two-time All-Suburban League selection and vaunted Aces floor general. Hall of Famer at West Chester University. Enjoyed distinguished college and high school coaching career before becoming longtime high school principal; coached current Villanova head coach Jay Wright.
Gerald Mills '74 – First Team All-League selection, leading scorer and rebounder for high-flying 1974 team. Central League record of 27-7 during two varsity campaigns. Hall of Fame career at Cheyney University, where he was a member of the 1978 Division II National Championship team coached by John Chaney.
Gregg Long '75 – Central League MVP, All-Central League First Team and leading scorer for 1975 District Finalists and Central League Champions. Led Aces to first state playoff victory in 30+ years thanks to clutch play and sweet stroke; scored 20+ points in each of the Aces' last ten games. Went on to play at Norfolk State.
Michael Venafra '01 – Prolific scorer who tallied 1146 points in two seasons. Led Aces to back-to-back league championships and state playoff appearances. Two year record of 46-15 (34-2 league). Named Central League MVP in 2001. Scored 1354 career points and was regional D III All-American at DeSales University.
Sarah Lowe '02 – All-time leading girls scorer with 1,676 points (2nd overall). Four-time First Team All-Central League honoree; led Aces girls to first-ever league title in 2002. McDonald's All American Finalist, Street & Smith Honorable Mention All-American and USA Today Player to Watch. Starred at the University of Florida where she finished college career among top ten UF players all-time in assists, steals, minutes played, free throw percentage and three pointers. Named 2006 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and NCAA Woman of the Year nominee.
Gregg Downer, Coach -- School's all time wins leader, currently 378-175. Has led Aces to two PA State Championships, three State Finals, two District 1 championships, nine Central League titles, nine state playoff appearances, six District 1 Final Four appearances, and ten 20-win seasons. Named PA Coach of the Year in 2006 by the Associated Press. Seven-time Central League Coach of the Year. More than 20 of Downer's players have gone on to play basketball at the Division I, II, III and professional levels, including NBA MVP Kobe Bryant.
The Lower Merion Basketball Hall of Fame is named for legendary coach William H. "Andy" Anderson, who guided the Maroon & White to four state championships in the 1930's and '40s and still holds the highest career playoff winning percentage in state history. He is widely credited for fueling the rise of high school basketball in Eastern Pennsylvania.