Friday, March 27, 2015

"Alley Oop"---"Upano"

"Alley Oop"
Nick Vidalakis Invents the basketball play
By Wayne "Admiral" Ray
Bingham High School
Nick Vidalakis is a tall guy.  At least he was the last time I saw him.  Gravity takes its toll as we age. I have shrunk 2 3/4 inches from my "fighting height".  Maybe he has also.  Nick was taller than most of us in junior and senior high school.  I believe only Reed Schultz was taller in our class.  None of Nick's height and weight was fat because he was a hard worker and besides he walked daily from Lead Mine to school and back from grade school to 12th grade.
There is a famous story concerning Nick and Joel P. Jensen when we were in the 8th or 9th grade that amazed us all because of the way Mr. Jensen handled Nick's size.  A nickname was involved in provocation.  If you remember your teachers at BHS you know the nickname, (Punjab).  The action took place from the classroom to the hallway.  It was Unbelievable!
Joel Jensen
The previous paragraphs are to establish that Nick was tall.  He was a varsity basketball player our senior year.  He wasn't a starter but I think he did get to play quite a bit.  If I remember right he was 6th or 7th on the starting rotation.  In contrast I was 10th on the rotation.  We only had 10 players.  The starters were Captain Kent Stillman, Chris Apostal, Bill Thomas, Ken Hall and Jack Knudson.  Other teammates were:  Bill Boren, Steve Hauskenecht, and George Dimas.  We made it to the State Class "B" Tournament held in the Deseret Gym in Salt Lake City in 1946.  The last time the Bingham High School basketball team played in the State Tournament is when the dad's of Kent Stillman, Ken Hall and Bill Thomas played.  How about that for a coincidence?  Three starter son's of three starter dads in the two bracketed tournament appearances.  My uncle "Lolly" also played in that era but it didn't help me getting any playing time.  (I got to play the last minute or two sometimes when the game was a cinch for our victory or hopelessly lost)

Nick #11 

It happened in practice.  I can't remember the exact details but Nick instructed us that when he shouted "Upano" whoever had the ball could lob it to him over the heads of the guarding players.  With his height advantage he could grab the ball and score.  (I always thought that "upano" meant up in Greek but my English-Greek Dictionary didn't recognize the word.)  Coach "Sunny" Alsop liked the idea and encouraged the play whenever Nick was in the game. Wasn't any name to the play, but in future years with many teams they called it the "Alley Oop".  Other teams may have used this play before us but I credit Nick for inventing it as an offensive strategy.  It worked especially in our last game of the season.  
Nick Vitalakis, Wayne Ray
 We beat Duchesne and Park City before we lost to American Fork in the semi-finals.  Our final game for third place was against Spanish Fork.  Coach Alsop sat the starters down and let the reserves play the game.  We won 31-25.  Nick and "Upano" prevailed.  I even scored a few.  UPANO, with Nick.