BA HISTORY 101: Blue Devils cop ’96 hoops crown


Kerry Naylor

The basketball team in 1996 started a mini-dynasty for the boys program.

Zach Miller, Photo Editor

With both Blue Devil basketball teams entering district playoffs it’s a good thing to note that 25 years ago the boys basketball team defeated Blairsville 68-59 to win the District 6 2A championship. Bellwood was coached by Gene Yingling and Tim Keech.

It was the program’s first District title in nearly 50 years. The game took place at St. Francis University.

The Devils were led by Brent Gerwert and Stephen Conlon. Gerwert, as a junior, finished with 36 points and Conlon finished with 18 points as a senior. Gerwert, who had scored his 1000th point just two games before, clearly still did not miss a beat. 

B-A went into halftime down by 2 but after a pep talk from Coach Yingling, they came out hot in the second half. The Blue Devils were able to make the right adjustments and head into the final stages of the game with a  10-point lead.  Then, Blairsville brought the game back within three only for Tom Boob to get a steal and give it up to Gerwert for the dunk to seal the game. 

The Blue Devils executed almost perfectly this game making it very hard for anyone to beat them. But when you have two 1,000-point scorers on your team, you’re bound to make some noise.

The championship win was the start of a dynasty in Bellwood as the Blue Devils would go on to win it the next year as well.

In later years, Conlon would coach the B-A baseball team to a state championship in 2003, while Gerwert directed the basketball to a District 6 2A crown in 2016, with Conlon as one of his assistants.