Throwback Thursday: Littlestown's 1979 District 3 boys' basketball title
George Keeney remembers it like it was yesterday.
So does Tim McClatchy and Todd Donnelly.
For that matter, the entire 1979 Littlestown boys' basketball team likely has a similar sentiment.
A group of unproven basketball players rallied a community and took the local basketball scene by storm. Despite having to replace most of the roster from a season before, head coach John Barnhart and the Bolts shocked District 3 by going 27-3. The Bolts capped their season by winning the District 3 Class A Championship with a 75-73 victory over Brandywine Heights.
"It was awesome," McClatchy said. "It will always stick in your head. It was indescribable. We never anticipated that we would have the success that we had."
The only player the Bolts returned from the year before was center John McClatchy, who was entering his senior season. The rest of the starting lineup was comprised of forward Mark Thomas and point guard Donnelly, both of whom moved up from junior varsity; guard/forward George Keeney had transferred over from Delone Catholic that year; and shooting guard Tim McClatchy was only a sophomore.
Yet Littlestown did not just defeat teams, they dominated them.
"We had four guys on our team who scored over 400 points on the season," Keeney said. "We out-rebounded our opponents by 15 boards per game. Every night we played in front of a packed gym, it was awesome."
According to Keeney, John McClatchy averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds per game. Keeney averaged 14 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and Tim McClatchy finished the season with more than 400 points.
"We really came together as a team that year," Donnelly said. "We had guys who played their role and stuck to that role and did what they did best. We had a great inside-outside combo. John really dominated the paint regardless of who was there. Timmy and George were on the wing and they could knock down the jumpers. My job was to bring the ball up the court and not screw up."
In the Blue Mountain League Championship, the Bolts faced a Scotland team that they had defeated in the regular season.
"That game was a zoo," Tim McClatchy said. "It was at Gettysburg College and it was a close game all the way through. My brother and I scored every last point in the second half. My mom and all of her friends used to go. It was great. They would get a couple of carloads of people. That game had the biggest reception because it was at Gettysburg College."
In the District 3 championship, the Bolts took a commanding lead over Brandywine Heights before allowing them back in the game. Todd Donnelly hit a key shot late in the game to help secure the win.
Despite his clutch shot and the District 3 title, Connelly said that the Blue Mountain League Championship game was even better .
"I really think the winning attitude started earlier in the year when our football team had a lot of success," Donnelly said. "The community really gathered around you and it started with football."
Kenney credits the success of the team to how close they were as friends and how they put the team first.
"We had a whole team full of guys who were more worried about winning games as a team than on individual accolades," he said. "We loved being around each other and hanging out and it showed on the court."
Contact Mike Rubin at 717-637-3736 ext 143