Led by Glen Rock Hall of Fame Coach Cardy Gemma, Assistant Coach Tom Dilly and the starting five of (All-Staters and Hall-of-Famers) Bob Cook and Steve Fischer, Rich Balch, (Hall-of-Famer) Gary Glass and Brian Patterson, the 1972 Glen Rock basketball team is regarded by most as the best in school history. 1972 was a magical season for Panther basketball and the gym was packed for every game.
Having won their last 13 games in a row, Glen Rock ended the regular season with a 15-4 record and there were plenty of challenges waiting for them in the state tournament. In the first round the Rockers knocked off Ramsey, whom they had beaten twice and been beaten by once during the regular season and league tournament.
Next up was an excellent Rutherford team. Like the Panthers, Rutherford had size and speed. In front of 2000+ fans at Hackensack High School, Glen Rock found itself losing 34-30 at the half. To make matters worse, star center Bob Cook was forced to leave the game for good halfway through the fourth quarter.
Aided by some help from the bench, a gritty performance by Brian Patterson (25 points) and some key shots in overtime by Steve Fischer, Glen Rock came away with a 76-75 overtime victory. Tthat win came with a date to meet Vailsburg High School of Newark in the semi-final round of the Group II state tournament.
With size, speed and great shooting, Vailsburg would be Glen Rock’s toughest challenge. Most people in attendance agreed that they had never seen a high school team as “hot” as Vailsburg was that night. The Vikings shot “lights out,” making 9 of 11 shots in the first quarter (mostly from the perimeter). As in the Rutherford game the Panthers would find themselves on the short end at intermission, down by a score of 35-30.
Glen Rock showed tremendous composure under pressure, scrapping until the final seconds ticked away and losing by one point – 62-61. Vailsburg advanced to beat Ocean City High School by a wide margin in the final of the Group II state tournament.
Glen Rock finished ranked third in The Bergen Record Poll behind Hackensack and Ridgewood. The bottom line – great coach, great team, great memories!