Tuesday, March 13, 2007 — Time: 11:25:09 AM EST

Former BG star will be missed

By Buck Frank, bfrank@altoonamirror.com


Of all the players who’ve starred for the Bishop Guilfoyle boys’ basketball team in its rich history, Pat Shute may have been the one who hit the biggest shot.

Shute’s overtime buzzer-beater in the PCIAA Class A state semifinals in 1967 knocked off Pittsburgh Bishop Canevin and propelled the Marauders to the state championship.

That shot is just one of the many memories members of the 1967 BG team have of Shute, who died of cancer Wednesday at the age of 58 at his home in Frisco, Texas, located in the northern suburbs of Dallas. He was retired after working for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for 20 years.

Those who knew him well said he was not just a great basketball player who earned a scholarship to St. Francis College, but a great person.

“He was a very loving, giving man,’’ said Shute’s partner, Jamie McFarland. “He did lots of shelter activities. He had one in downtown Dallas called Austin Street Shelter, and every Christmas he’d pull together everyone and take loads of clothes and canned goods to the shelter. He was that kind of person. He had so many friends.’’

His best friend while growing up in Altoona was Bill Adams, the current BG girls’ basketball assistant coach who was inseparable with Shute during their playing days. Adams said the two were friends beginning in first grade, and the 1967 championship team is always recalled fondly as the one with “Shute and Adams.’’

“We were a close-knit team, and Pat was the best player,’’ Adams said. “He was the leader. He’s going to be missed. He wasn’t just a good athlete, but a great friend.’’

Shute and Adams were 5-foot-9 guards and started for BG as sophomores under head coach Bill Gaffey. Two years later, optimism surrounded the BG team that included Tim Sigrist, who went to Notre Dame on a football scholarship, and Tom Turchetta, who later coached Division I college football.

“On the first day of practice in 1967, during monkey drills, Shute and Adams started a chant, ’PCI Double-A, Bishop Guilfoyle all the way,’’’ recalled Altoona’s Tony Labriola, an assistant coach. “That was their goal. They wanted it to happen. The harder we worked them, the louder they chanted.’’

BG was 18-6 when it met favored Bishop Canevin at the University of Pittsburgh Fitzgerald Fieldhouse on March 15 in the state semifinals. BG trailed by four with 16 seconds remaining and Canevin at the foul line. Miraculously, Shute rebounded the missed free throw and hit a jumper, then Sigrist stole the inbounds pass and sent the game into overtime with a 12-foot shot at the buzzer.

In the overtime, BG trailed by one with five seconds left and had to go the length of the court. Shute came off a pick by Joe Landolfi near the top of the circle, received a pass from Sigrist and drained the game-winner at the buzzer.

“The next day in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there was a photo taken from behind Pat with the ball out of his hand and the clock showing one second and Canevin up one,’’ Labriola said. “The headline read, ’Aw, Shute!’’’

Three days later BG defeated Shamokin Lourdes, 61-57, in the championship game at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.

“Pat was always a good guy,’’ said Gaffey, who now lives in Harrisburg. “I was a teacher at BG, too, and he was a good kid. He and Billy Adams were both energetic, fun guys who always had a smile on their faces. They played hard and were unselfish.’’

Shute then went to St. Francis and played behind Norm Van Lier and Kevin Porter, two future NBA players.

He is survived by McFarland, two sisters, Marlene Sheets of Altoona and Suzanne Brantlinger of Lewisburg, and one brother, Peter, of Indiana, Pa. McFarland said Sheets is planning a mass for friends and family in Altoona at a later date.

Gaffey and Labriola said a 40-year reunion of the 1967 team had been planned for this summer.

“We were all looking forward to the 40th reunion to celebrate again,’’ Labriola said. “But the ride closed on [Wednesday]. Without Pat Shute, there will be no celebrating. All we have left are the memories.’’

Buck Frank can also be reached at 946-7461.
Patrick J. Shute

March 4, 1949 - March 7, 2007

Patrick J. Shute, 58, died at his home in Frisco, Texas, March 7. He was born in Altoona, son of Peter M. and Mildred (Keirn) Shute.

Surviving are two sisters: Marlene Sheets of Altoona and Suzanne Brantlinger of Lewisburg; and a brother, Peter M. of Indiana, Pa.

A memorial Mass will be scheduled at a later date.