Pidd Cortemeglia (JHS ’65)
There will be a Celebration of Life for her on
Sunday, May 6th 2:00-4:00
at Panorama Village Clubhouse in Conroe.
City of Panorama Village
99 Hiwon Drive
Panorama Village, Texas 77304
Office Number (936) 856-2821
Would you help to get the word out?
She wanted a party - not religious, but certainly, a prayer could start it off.
Friends speak from these different groups: high school, College Delta Zeta,
Delta Airlines, Hail float friends, Mardi Gras, Rodeó, Panorama Golf, Mazatlan.
Pony Profile: Gene Phillips - Sharpest Shooter
June 23, 2009
By Rick Atkinson, cusa-fans.com
On March 2, 1971, Gene Phillips, perhaps the greatest pure shooter in SMU basketball history, stepped to the free-throw line in Austin's Gregory Gymnasium to break the Southwest Conference single-game scoring mark. It was the next to last game of his storied career. Eight seconds remained and Mustangs were down eight to the Texas Longhorns. Phillips had scorched the nets for 49 points, one shy of the record. He'd learned this only moments before, when a trainer alerted him and SMU head coach Bob Prewitt. "People don't believe this," said Phillips, "but I never really knew how many points I had in any game." Armed with the moment's gravity, Phillips, a career 80-percent free throw shooter, made the front end of the one-and-one. The crowd was told Phillips had just tied the SWC record held by SMU's Jim Krebs and Texas Tech's Dub Malaise. "And they started throwing stuff and booing," Phillips said. "The announcer, bless his heart, said, `Guys, we don't need to do that. That's unsportsmanlike.' And they quit ... just like that." Then he sank the second one - for 51, a mark that will stand forever. (The SWC died 25 years later.) "It was a great place to do it - Texas, of course," said Prewitt. "Gene was a great competitor." Perhaps UT's Jimmy Blaylock, Phillips' longtime friend from Houston who fouled him, should get an assist. Said Phillips, "To this day, I think he did it on purpose." Phillips hit 20 field goals that night on 38 attempts, both SMU records. Three of the top four scoring performances in SMU history were turned in that year by Phillips, a three-time SWC Player of the Year, including 44 points at Creighton and Texas A&M. Other Phillips' school records include: 26.1 career points per game, 24 30-point games (Krebs is second with nine), 540 career free throws made and 19-19 free throws in a game. Phillips' 81-point game for Houston Jones High in '67 is still the Texas public school record. Although SMU never won the conference title during his tenure (1968-71), some of the school's wildest wins and most memorable moments happened with Phillips in the house.
Growing up in Houston, Phillips and his brothers, Larry and Lynn, had favorite SWC teams. "My team was always Rice," Phillips said. "Larry's was always SMU and Lynn's was Baylor. Somehow ... [Larry] ended up at Rice and Lynn and I ended up at SMU." Larry played basketball for Rice from 1960-64. Gene and Lynn won a 4A state championship together at Jones High in 1965, when Lynn was a senior and Gene, a sophomore. Their dad, Herman, coached high school football for 40 years and mom, Doris, was a longtime elementary school teacher. "My parents were incredible," said Phillips, recalling their one-day round-trips by car between Houston and Dallas on SMU gamedays."I guess I ended up at SMU because of Lynn, to a degree," Phillips said. SMU's 1967 NCAA tournament appearance in Lawrence, Kansas, likely tilted the highly-recruited Phillips to the Mustangs. (Phillips had been offered a scholarship to Kentucky by Adolph Rupp.) Phillips was there with his parents when the Mustangs beat Wes Unseld and No. 4 Louisville, 83-81. Lynn had 18 points and six rebounds.
The Mustangs lost the next day to Elvin Hayes and No. 7 Houston, but Lynn had another fine game. "He played probably the best two games of his college career at that regional," Phillips said. Lynn was the lone sophomore starter on that team with seniors Denny Holman, Charlie Beasley, Bob Begert and Bob Jones. Phillips and Lynn later played one season together at SMU. Lynn died in 1993 at 44 of a heart attack while playing basketball with his son in Dallas. "He was just gone," said Phillips. "They had a great love for each other," Prewitt said. Today, Phillips, 59, is athletic director at San Antonio Alamo Heights High School, where he has served for two years. (Alamo Heights won the 2006 Class 4A Division I state football title on his watch.)Prior to that, he coached and was A.D. during a 14-year stint at Azle, near Fort Worth. In the `80s, he coached at Wills Point in East Texas.
After SMU, Phillips played professionally for two years with the ABA's Dallas Chaparrals. "I once held Doctor J [Julius Erving] to 35 points in one half," he joked. Phillips and his wife of 28 years, Leigh Ann, have a married 27-year-old daughter with one child and a 22-year-old son.
The Mustangs had respectable 8-6 league campaigns in Phillips' sophomore and senior seasons, finishing third and fourth, respectively.His sophomore year, the 12-12 Mustangs had three overtime losses at home - to Baylor, TCU and conference champion Texas A&M - and swept UT and Arkansas.The next year, SMU (5-19, 4-10) fell to seventh in the league, with four conference losses by three points or less.Phillips' final year, the 16-10 Mustangs swept Arkansas and Texas A&M. SMU's 112-points at Arkansas remains the highest road-game point total in school history. Phillips called the 84-83 home loss to Texas that year "a killer."The Mustangs split with TCU all three years. The non-conference slates were formidable, peppered with Kansas, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Vanderbilt.A 97-95 SMU road win against Eddie Sutton's Creighton Bluejays in 1971 was a highlight experience for Phillips. He scored 44 points, on 17of 20 from the field. "It was probably the best shooting night I ever had," he said. But the win mattered more. "I remember those types of things more than the points," Phillips said.
A special Moody Coliseum moment: the ovation Phillips received after SMU beat conference champion TCU, 79-78, in his final home game. "That still sends chills up my spine almost forty years later," he said.
Another: knocking Texas Tech out of the 1970 conference championship Phillips' junior year with an 85-80 win, SMU's fifth and final of the year. And Phillips' stunning buzzer-beater off the glass that dumped Arkansas, 76-75, that same season."I can still see it," Prewitt said of the off-balance heave from the north side of Moody's east end. "He was right at the sideline, falling out of bounds."
"I was always a scorer," Phillips said. "But I like to think that I played defense and rebounded [too.]" Indeed, Phillips is in SMU's 1,000-point and 500-rebound clubs - as is Lynn."When a guy was open, I gave `em the ball," he said. "When I was open, they gave me the ball."And sometimes, "I didn't know what to do with it, so I shot it."
Phillips said he was often defended with the box-and-one, four defenders in a zone with the fifth on him. In high school, one team used a triangle zone, with two players on him. "Me and the two [defenders] stood at mid-court," he said, "and we played them four-on-three for the first half and I scored no points." Listed in college at 6-4, 175 pounds, Phillips played inside and outside, depending on the coverage. "I was a little skinny kid," he said, "I just had a lot of moves. I found a way to get the ball up." Phillips' 1,932 points rank second on SMU's career points list behind Jeryl Sasser's 1,992. Phillips played three years to Sasser's four (1997-2001) and there was no three-point shot in Phillips' day. Phillips said he doesn't worry about that, though plenty of his shooting was from downtown. His specialty? The dagger from the corner. "That's kind of a forgotten shot these days."
81 in `67
Two years after winning state, Jones High, with a 28-6 record, wasn't going to make the playoffs. The next to last game of the year was Houston Madison, a team that had given up big points the week before. Jones head coach "Bunky" Bradford was about to retire. And he had Phillips. Call it The Perfect Storm. "[Bradford] kind of planned it, I think, with the other players," Phillips said. "He came up to me before the game and said, `Shoot it every time you get it.'" "That was never a problem for me," Phillips laughed. Phillips had 53 points by halftime, a city record, and he sat a good bit in the second half. "I think the coach felt a little bad," he said. Phillips figures he played about 26 minutes and took 53 shots from the field, hitting 30. "You figure it out," he said. "I shot about twice a minute."
Jones won, 133-70.
Phillips said having his jersey retired by SMU would mean a lot, but he already has something else.
"What means more are the memories I have," he said. "The guys I played with, the Larry Delzells, the David Millers and the good times we had on the court and off the court." Work, he said, hasn't allowed him to attend many games but he hopes that changes soon. "Now that my kids have graduated," he said, "and I'm not coaching quite as much as I did, I hope to be able to ... get more involved." Phillips calls Prewitt "a great gentleman" and a "class act." "I probably didn't know that at the time," he said. ... "You come to appreciate those type of coaches."
"I have great memories," he said. "I love SMU."