Valley to honor late basketball standout Chipper Harris
Monday, February 3, 2020 | 4:34 PM
Late basketball standout Chipper Harris, who helped lead Valley High School to a state basketball title and Robert Morris to an NCAA tournament berth, never forgot his New Kensington roots.
Now, Valley High School wants to make sure nobody forgets Chipper Harris.
The school will be holding a brief ceremony to honor Harris’ memory Tuesday night after the junior varsity game at Valley against Deer Lakes.
“They’ll be honoring my father before the start of the varsity game,” said his daughter, Caylen Harris. “They want to recognize him for his contribution to the Valley team and his basketball career overall.”
Harris died May 28, 2018. This is the 40th anniversary of Harris’ graduation from Valley in 1980.
During the latter stages of his junior season in 1978-79, he came into his own with a number of great performances as Valley made the WPIAL playoffs, was eliminated by Burrell in the quarterfinals, won a mini-tournament between the quarterfinal losers, then rolled to a PIAA state title.
One of his best friends over the years was Ron “Mack” McNabb, now the head basketball coach at Knoch.
“Chipper and I first met when we played Little League baseball together,” McNabb recalled. “In basketball, we played one-on-one every single day. He made me a much better basketball player, and we were competitive with each other. He was never shy about giving his opinion.”
Both Harris and McNabb were inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
McNabb will be unable to attend Tuesday’s ceremony since he will be coaching Knoch in its game against Freeport.
“He was one of my dearest friends,” McNabb said. “You could see about mid-January (1979), he just turned it on and you could see his confiedence. He played with a passion.”
A 2007 Valley High graduate, Caylen enjoys hearing about her father’s basketball days.
“I’ve seen some random video of his playing days,” Caylen said. “Later on, he would play at the New Kensington ‘Y’ against kids my age. He would play them for milkshakes and would make them a sack lunch before they played. He wanted everyone to succeed.”
Caylen Harris said she will “say a few words” Tuesday night about her father’s devotion to basketball and his community.
Matt Furjanic, the Robert Morris coach at the time, started recruiting Harris in his junior season when he was part of the Valley state championship team.
While playing for the Colonials, Harris helped lead Robert Morris to NCAA tournament berths in 1982 and ’83, a few years after the school made the leap from a junior college to Division I basketball.
Harris averaged 16.6 points per game with the Colonials and had 450 career steals, leading the nation in that category in 1983 and ’84.
He was the first member of the Robert Morris Ring of Honor and had his No. 10 jersey retired in a surprise Feb. 15, 2014 ceremony.
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