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Friday, October 31, 2014
Mepham honors basketball great
(Page 2 of 4)
Donovan Berthoud/Herald
Mepham basketball great Joseph Metzger III recently had his number retired during a surprise ceremony at his alma mater. Joining him to celebrate were, from left, daughter-in-law Mary Ann Metzger, daughter Tammy McLoughlin, grandson Austin McLoughlin, son David Metzger, his wife, Joyce, granddaughter Bailey McLoughlin, son-in-law Brian McLoughlin and Mepham Principal Michael Harrington.

Metzger’s name appears on a plaque displayed in Mepham’s trophy case, highlighting the school’s four top players from 1937 to 1956. The plaque lists their many accolades. Metzger has the longest list:

• 1956 Newsday All Scholastic First Team

• New York Daily News All Metropolitan First Team

• Newsday All Long Island First Team

• Long Island Press All-Nassau First Team

• Del Sports Magazine Honorable Mention Eastern United States

•Adelphi College Scholastic All-Long Island Team versus New York City All Stars

• 1956 Nassau County Scoring Champ

• Alpha Sigma Outstanding Athlete.

A March 30, 1956, Newsday article by Bill Searby on Nassau’s All Scholastic Basketball Team, comprising the county’s five best players, described Metzger this way: “The dream team’s big man, Metzger was a demon rebounder all season for the [Pirates]. Mepham’s attack was built around him, and he won unanimous praise from every coach who’d been forced to devise special defenses to check him.”

In all, Metzger scored 318 points that season.

Fifty-seven years later, his number was given a place of honor in the school’s trophy case. Metzger stood on the Mepham basketball court, side by side with Bailey, acknowledged by the crowd’s thunderous applause. “It just couldn’t have been nicer,” he said.

The tribute was fitting for a man whose name is synonymous with Mepham history: His grandfather, Joseph Metzger Sr., a Merrick plumber, served on the Bellmore-Merrick Central District Board of Education when Mepham was constructed in 1937, and worked with the school’s architect to help design its plumbing.

After graduating from Mepham, Metzger had offers to play for the Naval Academy, North Carolina, NYU, St. John’s and the University of Vermont. He chose the Naval Academy, which sent him to the boys-only Greenbrier Military School in West Virginia to prepare for the academy, and there he played basketball against southern college freshman teams.

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