A rested Reddic ready to help the national champions repeat

 

Tone Reddic, Sr.

by Thomas Leturgey

Tone Reddic, Sr. watched last weekend’s last-seconds victory over the Ohio Bruins via the online broadcast. He was itching as he watched the Steel City Yellow Jackets trail in the final moments before Kenny Holmes hit a 3D triple pointer for the 131-130 victory. 

It was time for the Co-Captain to come back to help defend the National Championship.

Reddic, 34, has been playing competitive sports since he was about 14. He played receiver and defensive back (and anything else they needed) for Aliquippa High School and was able to take part in a game in the playoffs at Heinz Field. Now, his son, Antonio, Jr., is a 14-year-old sophomore who is playing receiver and cornerback for the same Aliquippa High School. Reddic, Jr. was getting ready to play Friday night at the same venue, now called Acrisure Stadium, and Dad was in attendance.

But it was the Yellow Jackets that has been foremost on the guard/forward’s mind. Last season, Reddic played heroically underneath the net for Ace Pippens’ squad. He was the team’s Most Valuable Player, but the intensity took its toll. Reddic raced up and down the court with the best of them, and often took on much larger forwards and centers. He hit the hardwood and shed a lot of blood on the American Basketball Association (ABA) courts on the way to the team’s first championship.

Reddic was unsure about returning this season. He played hard in summer tournaments and a persistent back injury just got worse. He was on Injured Reserve at the start of the season. “I had never taken any time off in 20 years,” he said. “I wanted to take some time off to heal. There were a lot of nicks and bruises.”

But as any true competitor knows, watching the team you helped to build from the sidelines–or on a screen–can make some decisions. “It was time to come back,” he said.

A starting co-captain with Gilmore Cummings last year, Reddic will come off the bench this weekend as the Yellow Jackets first travel to Cleveland to face the Burning River Buckets, and then they return home a Giving Heart Community Center in Allentown on Sunday afternoon at 5pm. He’s ready.

“It’s a big relief to be back,” he added. Last season, it was Reddic and Claude Scott, Jr. in the paint the most. Others like Justin Hamilton, Brandon Franklin and Brandon Burnett later in the season worked the paint, but it was Reddic and Scott who handled the bulk of the rebounding load. Now, Artis Cleveland, Dominick McClung and Burnett provide size underneath. But don’t expect a less-than-100% Reddic to change his game one percentage point. “It’s my instinct to go inside.”

Two years ago when the Yellow Jackets came close to an ABA championship, Reddic urged his teammates to come back for one more opportunity. He, Pippens, Cummings and others talked about the importance of winning the championship. In April, the team succeeded and Reddic really gave serious consideration to leaving a winner. “It was a box on the resume that I wanted checked,” he continued. “I thought about riding off…” but he decided he couldn’t go out that way. “We need to try and repeat.” I asked everyone to come back for me and everyone buckled down.” Now, he wants to pay back to the city’s only reigning championship club.

“I don’t have anything to prove,” he said. He is encouraged by this year’s team, which is young, fast and hungry. “I’m here to ride their wave.”

He feels that the National Champions aren’t getting all the respect they have deserved, and he watched the team nearly lose its third game of the season. “It’s gonna be a good one,” he said of this weekend’s showdown with the 4-0, #10 ranked team from Cleveland. “Everywhere we go, it’s a hostile environment, but I don’t want it any other way.”

“I’m definitely ready,” he said. “It’s time to handle business.”

 

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