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St. Joe's Prep's Speedy Morris gets win No. 1,000

01/12/2018, 9:15pm EST
By Owen McCue

Darius Kinnel (above) scored his 1,000th point in Prep's win on Friday. But his wasn't the biggest milestone. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Darius Kinnel said Friday’s game against Lansdale Catholic is a game he will always remember.

One the St. Joseph’s Prep senior guard plans on tellings his children and his grandchildren about someday.

As his head coach Speedy Morris collected career victory number 1,000 with a 63-42 win against the Crusaders, Kinnel scored his 1,000th career point for the Hawks.

Morris said the 1,000 points were the bigger deal. It took him 50 years to get to 1,000 wins, while Kinnel needed just four years to get the milestone.

Kinnel realizes though that he became part of much more than Prep’s 1,000-point club on Friday as he shared the moment with his coach.

“I’m a part of Philadelphia history now,” Kinnel said. “It’s unbelievable to me.”

Speedy Morris (above) became the first coach in Pennsylvania hoops history to win 1,000 games. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The last time a Philadelphia coach was going for win No. 1,000 was Herb Magee in 2015. With press row filled and a crowd full of people to witness the milestone, Magee’s Philly U squad lost in the first opportunity before taking care of business in the following game.

On Friday, the stage was set similarly. The gym was crowded, cameras were rolling and the guest list included the likes of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Prep alum, and Pete Carrill, the former Princeton coach and Hall of Famer. However, it was clear very early that Morris would not have to wait like Magee.

Prep started the game on an 8-0 run and led by 31-16 points by the end of the first half. An 11-0 run to start the third quarter all but ensured the 1,000th win was coming. After senior guard Vincent Busico dribbled out the final ticks on the clock, the fans rose to their feat, the red and white streamers went onto the court and the celebration began.

“I wouldn’t say we were nervous, but we were more so anxious to get to this day because we knew it was going to be a huge day for Speedy,” senior guard Kyle Thompson said. “And for Darius to score his 1,000th point on the same day is something that never ever happens, so this is going to go down as one of the greatest Prep moments in history.”

This Prep squad had been looking forward to Friday all season.Throughout the early part of their schedule there were countless stories and inquiries about their head coach. There was a countdown banner hanging in the gym.

While they figured the win would come around this point the season, the Hawks weren’t sure the exact date, hoping it would be a home game. With game cancellations due to wintry weather, a win against Archbishop Ryan on Sunday set things up perfectly.

Morris would have a chance for win No. 1,000 at home, with five days of prep for those who wished to attend. 

“I feel bad,” Morris said. “Everybody was talking about ‘Speedy Morris. Speedy Morris.’ Ever since we won our first game against Girard College…it was ‘Nine more to go. Here we go eight more, seven more.’ So I’m glad I don’t have to hear that any more.”

Morris’ 1,000 victories came from tenures at Roman Catholic, Penn Charter, La Salle’s men’s and women’s team and finally the Prep. The only wins not included were from his days coaching CYO basketball right out high school and JV hoops at Roman.

There were representatives from each stop on Friday.

Keith Coady, an all-league player on Morris’ first Roman team in 1968, was there along with several other former Roman hoopers. Coady also played for Morris during his first year of coaching on Saint John the Baptist’s CYO team in Manayunk. He said Morris used to take kids from those teams down to the Palestra on Saturday nights.

Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale, a player for Morris at Penn Charter, made sure he didn’t miss the event despite having to coach a game against Roman Catholic later Friday night.

La Salle players like Tim Legler and Lionel Simmons made sure they didn’t miss the event. Plenty of Prep alumni showed up too, including current St. Joe’s University players Chris Clover and Kyle Thompson.

Temple coach Fran Dunphy, who was an assistant for Morris at La Salle, and Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli both made their ways in before the end of the game.

They both usually draw attention when they walk into area gyms, but on Friday rather all eyes were on the white-haired man in the maroon sweater on the sidelines going for win No. 1,000.

“It’s overwhelming really,” Morris said. “I’m blessed to coach so many great kids and to have so many great assistant coaches who helped me. I just feel really blessed. There’s a lot of memories in this room, a lot of memories. I teared up a couple times…It’s an overwhelming day for me.”

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