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Terrific Tiger

Alcona, ACC star joins Alpena Sports Hall of Fame

April 21, 2011
By JAMES ANDERSEN - News Sports Writer ( , The Alpena News

ACC men's basketball coach Frank McCourt still remembers the work ethic of Mendy (Matuzak) Romero as a freshman on the Lumberjacks basketball team in 1981.

"She worked awful hard. She could play inside and she had good range too," McCourt said.

The hard work she displayed under McCourt and her amazing basketball career at Alcona High School have earned Romero a place in the 2010 class of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame.

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Mendy Matuzak Romero had a stellar basketball career for Alcona in the late ’70s before a brief career playing at Alpena Community College. After transferring to Lakeland College, Matuzak Romero earned a scholarship to Kent State.

She and three other nominees will be inducted at a ceremony next month.

"It's a tremendous honor. I was completely shocked to be nominated. It's a little overwhelming," Romero said. "(Hall of Fame president) Gary Mischley called me the Saturday before the press night (in January)."

Before playing at ACC, Romero had a stellar career at Alcona as the Tigers went 64-9 from 1978-80, with Romero at center. In 1978, the Tigers went 22-3, losing to Norway in the quarterfinals.

In 1979, her junior year, Romero and the Tigers went 23-2 and lost in the semifinals to Royal Oak Shrine. The two losses for Alcona that season came in the first and last games of the year.

"We had some excellent basketball teams. Junior year was the best team. (Against Shrine) we played a terrible first quarter. We only lost by nine, but the first quarter did us in," Romero said.

Romero led the Tigers to a 19-4 record and regionals as a senior while averaging a double-double. She is Alcona's 3rd all-time career scorer and leading rebounder.

Under McCourt's tutelage, Romero made an immediate impact for the Lumberjacks, scoring 16 points in the season opener against Oakland in November 1981. Romero and Alcona teammate Cindy DeRocher played for ACC that season at center and point guard, respectively.

"Frank is a good coach. He was really a father figure and a positive influence on me," Romero said.

While she dazzled on the court, Romero also lettered in softball and track at Alcona. In 1981 she won the state title in the shot put with a distance of 40-2. She also finished third in the discus at the state championships that year.

Romero made the all-conference team at ACC and moved on to Lakeland College after ACC disbanded sports. She caught the eye of several Division I schools, including Kent State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Gonzaga.

She ultimately chose Kent State because of its proximity to Lakeland and the fact that her coach was very instrumental in getting her a scholarship to play for the Golden Flashes.

"It's a real honor (for her to be inducted)," McCourt said. "She never did get a chance to finish her career here."

After playing center her entire career, Romero moved to power forward and started every game she played, playing against the likes of Alabama, North Carolina and North Carolina State.

Romero, who's worked at Charter Communications in the finance department for more than 20 years, is understandably a little nervous about her upcoming induction speech, but is also very proud of what she accomplished at Alcona.

"I go to the games now and I think about when I played. I'm proud of the way we played. The stands were always full and the whole town came," Romero said. "It's always made me proud. I'm really glad I was an Alcona Tiger."



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