Liberty to dedicate court tonight

LIBERTY – Fans of Liberty basketball have already seen the new logo that is displayed on the high school basketball court at Liberty High School. Tonight, the court will officially be dedicated to one of the longest tenured and most successful coaches at Liberty – and in Trumbull County history.

Pete Prokop Court will officially be dedicated tonight prior to the Leopards’ game against Campbell. Buzz Berkowitz, who played for Prokop and spearheaded the project, said tonight’s event was a long time coming.

“This has been going on for years to try and get this done because of the kind of caliber of person he was in the coaching world,” Berkowitz said. “It took many, many years to get this done and approved by the school board.

“So many players, friends, coaches, fans had wanted this to happen because of what he did for little Liberty Township. I just never gave up trying to get this done.”

After Berkowitz, who graduated from Liberty in 1969, got the green light for the project, he enlisted McDonald resident John Battaglia to come up with the design of the logo for the court. After that, Prokop’s widow, Helen, chose the design. She will be in attendance tonight for the dedication.

Prokop, who passed away on May 23, 2012, had a storied career at Liberty. He was a teacher for 30 years at Liberty High School, and coached the boys basketball team for 21 years. He also coached baseball and boys and girls golf.

But it was on the hardwood that Prokop was most successful. During his run, he won two tri-county championships, nine league championships, eight sectionals, three district and regional championships and finished as a 1961 Class A state finalist.

He was named Trumbull County Coach of the Year eight times and four times in Mahoning County. He received the Ohio High School Basketball Coaching Association Hall of Fame Award, was enshrined in the Youngstown Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame, YSU Hall of Fame in golf, Liberty High School Hall of Fame, Trumbull Coaching Hall of Fame, the Howland High School Hall of Fame, and in 1999 the Tribune Chronicle honored him as basketball coach of the century.

“He was an old school kind of guy, but a great human being,” Berkowitz said.

The ceremony, which is open to any players or friends of Prokop, will take place at 7:15 p.m. tonight, prior to the varsity game, which will tipoff at 8 p.m.