Gloucester County Times / July 28, 1999

Bring on Iverson! I'm king of the bankshot / Bob Shryock

As a teen-ager in the '50s, basketball was our sport, or so we thought. We could shoot 30-foot two-handed set shots with unerring accuracy, if, that is, you consider 2-out-of-10 from that range unerring. Playmaker on the junior high school junior varsity, we fed 30-point-per-gamer Carroll Hartle for two seasons of consecutive 15-and-2 records and were convinced if our team stayed together through our senior years in high school we'd win the PIAA championship.

All that disintegrated, of course, into an abyss of loss after loss, season after season, until the epic 17-game losing streak final year. What playmaker Shryock proved conclusively over six years was a consistent inability to shoot the ball straight, which was responsible for a lowly and embarrassing 4.0 scoring average as a senior.

After high school, we continued searching for the elusive shot, through a forgettable one-year career at Hagerstown Junior College, marred by having our head driven into a wall at the Catonsville, Md. gym, triggering a riot; through riding the bench for Phi Gamma Delta in the Gettysburg College intrafraternity league, and, years later, through trials and tribulations in the Woodbury YMCA league, where, unjustly, we were accused of basket-hanging. It's much easier to make an uncontested lay-up than a 12-foot pull-up jumper over Dave Budd. Of course, in the '50s the classic jump shot was still being invented and as yet had not revolutionized basketball. We had to develop that as a pot-bellied pick-up game player and did so, to some extent, in a series of news media all-star games against county high school faculty teams in the 1960s and 1970s. Against Clearview one night, we scored a career-high 45 against a squad that included Temple grad Joey Cromer, some on basket-hanging layups but a fair share on short jumpers. Not even Michael Jordan scored 45 every night, so there. Then, bald and overweight, we thrillingly scored a gift single basket one night at the Spectrum in a YMCA alumni game, but nearly dropped from exhaustion while retreating to our defensive position. Which brings up to Bankshot Basketball™ and the at-last unearthed Shryock Shot. As a warm-up to last Saturday's Bankshot regional championships at Mantua Township's Chestnut Branch Park, tourney director, and fellow Gettysburgian, Dave Armor invited us to try Bankshot . He'd obviously heard of our basketball prowess and wanted to see for himself. But Armor added incentive. Knowing our keen competitive nature resulting usually in losses, he set up an 18-station challenge shoot-off against a formidable Monroe Township tandem, Walter "Dusty" Orbaczewski and his son Joe.

Monroe Township police dispatcher for 26 years, the just-turned-50 Dusty has been in a wheelchair since he was shot accidentally in the back during a hunting accident 36 years ago. But Dusty is a hoops marksman of some renown who has played competitive wheelchair basketball, and, according to reports, quite well. His shooting touch is impressive. Joe is a 10-year-old fifth-grader at White Hall School who aspires to play ball himself and already has the shot to get the job done. Available in the county only at the spectacular Mantua park, Bankshot Basketball™ is a relatively new game for players of all ages and abilities, requiring different shooting strategies at each of 18 stations. It's been called a combination of basketball, billiards and miniature golf with the shooter challenged to play a course of angled and curved backboards. Each station presents a new angled, banked shot through rims while shooting from three different circles at each station. And, most importantly, all shots must be banked in to count. No unbanked swishes, no dunks, if so, zero points. A successful shot (two tries) from the blue circle is worth one point. It's two points from the yellow and three from red (two tries from each). Maximum score is 10 per station: Six for a basket from each circle, a seventh point for scoring from each spot, and three for a bonus shot from the red.

With county director of Special Services (and Armor's tourney co-chair) Jackie Love furiously snapping photos, we had back-to-back 10s at the second and third stations and built up a quick 6-point lead over both Dusty and Joe, relying on flat-footed pushes. Father and son seemed amazed that a 60-year-old with a heart condition and flat-trajectory push shot was beating them. Armor, who elected to keep score but not embarrass himself as a competitor, critiqued our shot and also seemed surprised the balls were not boomeranging off the backboards and hitting us in the head, as they used to at old good Waynesboro High. With four perfect 10s (stations 13 and 15, too) we finished with a grand total of 92 points to 76 for Dusty and 65 for Joe. It may have been a better story if a man in a wheelchair and a 10-year-old whipped us, but, considering a lifetime of athletic misfortunes, we're delighted. A win is a win is a win. "Ringer," said Dusty as we made a lucky 1-pointer in the 18th station, off an impossible double bank, and received an extra bonus point for degree of difficulty. It was like scoring an ace through the elephant's trunk and winning a free game at the miniature golf course. Armor is a smart guy, but, we should note, his scorekeeping was not unflawed. Instead of crediting us with a final tally of 92, he wrote down 82 on the scoresheet. Giving Dave the benefit of the doubt, it's possible he couldn't add numbers that high.

Teens and adults with certified scores about 130, as well as junior and wheelchair athletes with certified tallies of 100 and above, qualify for the National Bankshot Championships in Victoria, Texas next month. The closest we're getting to Victoria is Victoria's Secret. But whenever Allen Iverson's ready for a challenge, it's put up or shut up time.

We can talk a little hoops trash, too.