It was a cold, windy night in January of 1971 when Father Ed Lyons, at his residence in St. Michael’s Rectory, talked about his idea – why not bring some of the top high school basketball teams to Atlantic City for a tournament in what is now Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.

Eleven months later, The Seagull Classic began.

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Father Lyons, who died early last week, recruited some special people from the area to help make the tournament a reality –people like his brother, John Lyons; the legendary Boo Pergament; Joe Farley; and Ted Lapres. Then, once the structure of the event was formed, he added the likes of Jay Connell, Bob Derbyshire, Scott Higbee, Bob O’Hara, Dave Pfeifer and Dave Ryan.

Atlantic City High School recached the final in that first Seagull Classic, losing to D.C.’s Archbishop Carroll, led by Eddie Jordan, in the final. Alan Greenman led ACHS with 18 points with Walt Montford and Mark Martin each scoring 12.

After that, The Seagull moved to Villanova, Penn’s Palestra, Drexel, Camden County College, Holy Spirit High School and St. Joseph University. In the final championship game, in 1990, Atlantic City – led by Lou Roe and coached by Joe Fussner – defeated Episcopal Academy to win the title.

Through the years, teams from New Jersey Pennsylvania, New York, D.C., Florida, California, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, Arkansas and Canada all competed. And some of the top players in the country competed.

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