ANTHONY ALFANO taught at Camden High School and Cooper B. Hatch Junior High School for 34 years, from 1942 through 1976. He is best remembered as head basketball coach at Camden High, where he succeeded Al Bass in 1944, after serving as an assistant coach for two years.
Tony Alfano was a three sport athlete at Southern High School in Philadelphia, participating in football, basketball, and baseball. After graduation he went to Temple where he played basketball. He was on the national championship NIT basketball team in 1938.
Tony Alfano's teams never had a losing season, and compiled a record of 428-129 over 27 years. His 1955 team went undefeated within Group IV, winning its first conference championship in ten years. The Purple Avalanche won consecutive state titles in 1959 and 1960 with a team that featured the great Ron "Itchy" Smith. Many other fine players were coached by him, including Golden "Pete" Sunkett, who had a long career with the Camden Police Department and Sam Fisher Jr., who went on to the Camden Fire Department. Clarence Turner, himself a highly successful basketball coach at Camden High, served as an assistant under Alfano. After leaving Camden High he worked at Villanova University in the college library.
Inducted into the South jersey Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982, Anthony Alfano passed away on January 6, 2005.
Camden High School Purple & Gold Yearbook - 1960
Front: Charles Maddox
- Thomas Ashley - Steven Schley
Camden Courier-Post * January 9, 2005
Alfano Remembered as an Outstanding Coach
By LAVINIA DeCASTRO
Anthony Alfano, a legendary boys' basketball coach who taught at Camden High School from 1942 to 1976, died Thursday.
"He was a very personable gentleman," said Camden school board member Elmer Winston, who taught at Camden High School during Alfano's last years there. "He seemed to have a really good relationship with the students he coached. I've talked to a lot of fellows who played for him over the years and they all seemed to have lots of positive things to say about him."
The team never had a losing season in Alfano's 27 years of coaching from 1944-70. Under Alfano, the school - then nicknamed the Purple Avalanche - went 428-129 and won back-to-back state championships in 1959 and 1960 with unbeaten records. His 1959 team was named the Courier-Post All-Century Team of the Classic Era (1900-68).
"We weren't big, but we were well-coached and had a good shooting team that played good defense," guard Golden "Sunny" Sunkett told the Courier-Post in 2000. "Tony was the best coach I ever had."
"He was a great coach," said current Camden coach Clarence Turner, South Jersey's all-time winningest coach who was an assistant coach under Alfano. "He knew basketball completely. Some of the things he did I still use today."
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday in the Annunciation BVM Church in Havertown, Pa. HOW TO HELP
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Camden High School
1954-1955 Basketball Team
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Loren Tobia, news director at WTVH in Syracuse NY, delivered this eulogy at the funeral of Anthony Alfano. Mr. Tobiua is Anthony Alfano's son in law.
First of all I want to thank all of you for being here today to help celebrate Dadís life. And this truly is a celebration, for after 94 years of life, there is lots to celebrate and be thankful for.
I think all of you are familiar with Popís, or Coachís accomplishments on the basketball court. After great success as a player, and a member of the first NIT Championship team, he went on to an incredible career as the most successful coach in the history of New Jersey High School basketball, State Championships, a record 51 wins in a row, and a place in the Hall of Fame.
what some of you may not know is what he was most proud of. It wasnít
the over 350 wins, it wasnít the 10 South Jersey Championships Ė it
was the kids he helped give a shot to, not on the basketball court, but a
shot at a better life. He spoke with pride of the kids he coached who
became Doctors or Lawyers or members of Law Enforcement.
Dad, education was everything. He worked three jobs so his three children
could make it through college. And his grandchildren know how interested
he was in seeing their report cards when they brought them home from
called him Tony, others called him Anthony. To some he was Mr. ďA,Ē or
coach. To most of us he was Pops. Pops loved his wife, and when she left
us there was a huge void in all our lives. You children were something
special to him. He always talked with pride about his son and two
daughters. He so looked forward to your calls and visits. He appreciated
your thoughts, your calls and your prayers. And the loving care you showed
him at times when it was needed, and beyond.
was so proud of you Grandchildren. He talked about each of you to people
he met, talked about what you were doing, and what you were aspiring to.
for some things that will remind all of us of Pops:
loved pasta. Even if we took him to the best steakhouse in the world, if
they didnít have pasta on the menu, he didnít know what to order.
always had to have money in his pocket, and he always wanted to know how
much things cost, whether it was a new shirt, or a new car.
had a smile that couldnít be beat. It was in his face, and in his eyes,
and when he waved that smile at the ladies, he had them hooked.
after year he tried and failed to have a green lawn.
loved to watch sports on television, not just hoops but boxing, and he
boxed along with each punch.
learned to be a Villanova fan, a Nebraska fan and a Syracuse fan, but if
Temple was on television, there was no other team to watch.
always wanted to work, and even at the age of 94, he wanted to work for
the nursing home, so much so that they had him help out with things and
gave him a check every month.
loved to dress up, and to the end loved to wear a tie every day, and he
had to have a hat with him. Itís the hat we will always remember.
were fortunate to have him live with us for almost the last ten years of
his life. For our children Ė his Grandchildren, it was special to grow
up with Pops in the house. He gave them wisdom, a kind word, and a lot of
love. Itís tough having such a successful athlete watch you T-Ball game,
but it worked.
me he was more than a father-in-law. He was a friend, a helper, a coach, a
partner. He helped me with jobs around the house, even if I didnít want
his help. It was a relationship I canít describe. We loved each other,
respected each other, and cared about and for each other.
miss him already, but know that the guy upstairs is lucky to have him in
me close with a poem his daughter Patti found that seems so fitting:
bless and keep you Pops.
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