Former basketball sensation Linda Page found dead in her Yeadon home

Basketball phenom Linda Page at home in 1981. After leaving Dobbins Tech, she starred at North Carolina State.
Basketball phenom Linda Page at home in 1981. After leaving Dobbins Tech, she starred at North Carolina State. (File Photograph)
Posted: October 06, 2011

Contemporaries of former Dobbins Tech girls' basketball sensation Linda Page, who broke Wilt Chamberlain's individual local high school scoring record when she scored 100 points against Mastbaum in February 1981, reacted with shock and fond remembrances Wednesday to her death. She was 48.

The circumstances of her death were sketchy, but several sources close to Page and her family said she died in her home in Yeadon, Delaware County, possibly of a heart attack.

It was unclear, however, when or how she died, and police in Yeadon did not have anything to officially announce Wednesday night.

The North Carolina State Athletic Department, however, posted news of Page's death on its website Wednesday afternoon. The site offered few details, and did not list a cause of death. The 5-foot-11 Page excelled for the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Page gained national notoriety, when as a high school senior in 1981, she shattered the 90-point mark Chamberlain had set while playing for Overbrook High in 1955 against Roxborough.

"At the time she was the greatest girls' player ever out of the Public League," said Mike Flynn, who coached Page as a member of his nationally prominent Philadelphia Belles AAU program. "And since then the only other player who has accomplished more was Dawn Staley, who also played for Dobbins.

"She also became the first player to leave the city and play elsewhere, which showed she wanted a change in scenery," Flynn said of his star who started playing basketball at a church in the Kensington section of the city.

"I was at the game she scored 100," he said. "A year later, Cheryl Miller scored 105 in a high school game in California and I said, 'That's nothing. Page could have had 120 if she hadn't slowed down in the fourth quarter.' "

She also reached her 2,000th career point in the historic contest and her 48.3 scoring average as a senior is still a state high school record in Pennsylvania.

North Carolina State was a natural for Page, who chose to play for future a Hall of Fame coach, the late Kay Yow, because she had taken on the nickname "Hawkeye" after her favorite player Charles "Hawkeye" Whitney, a former Wolfpack men's star in the late 1970s.

Page, who was honored in 2008 as one of the legendary players in the history of Atlantic Coast Conference women's competition, wore Whitney's uniform No. 43, which was later retired in the women's program at N.C. State.

She picked Yow's program over Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech, Tennessee, and St. Joseph's, among her final choices.

Page was fifth in career scoring in the ACC with 2,307 points in her four-year career, tied for ninth with an 18.8 points-per-game average, and fifth in field goals made at 942.

She led the ACC in scoring in 1983, '84, and '85 and is one of only five players to lead the league in scoring in three different seasons. Staley, who played at Virginia in the early 1990's, is not among the other four, though she is one of the conference's all-time overall scorers.

Nora Lynn Finch, the ACC associate commissioner who oversees the conference's women's competition in addition to other duties, was an assistant to Yow when the Wolfpack were trying to attract Page to Raleigh, N.C.

"We had some pretty talented players who came from the region but Kay told me to go out and recruit the best talent I could find," Finch recalled. "Linda was our first major recruit from outside the area.

"She once said that Kay was the only adult she could trust," Finch related. "Kay loved her as a player and as a person and eventually Linda got to appreciate that."

Debbie Antonelli, who now broadcasts women's collegiate and WNBA games on ESPN and other networks, played alongside Page in the backcourt for three seasons at N.C. State.

"There's no question she would be in the WNBA today if she played in this era," Antonelli observed. "I have seen them all down here and some may argue otherwise, but there's no question in my mind, Linda was the greatest player in the program's history.

"She could make all kinds of shots."

Rival coaches spoke of trying to stop her.

"When you played them, she was what you had to focus on stopping," said former Maryland coach Chris Weller. "You have to look at eras because the game has changed, but if she played today, when you play more games than back then, and you have a three-point shot, she would be the all-time scorer in the women's game."

Former Virginia coach Debbie Ryan added: "She's the greatest player we ever went up against in the conference. This news of what happened to her is so devastating. I feel so bad."

With no pro league to play stateside after college, Page went overseas and won a championship playing in Spain.

When she returned, Page, who had graduated with a degree in criminal justice, became a juvenile probation officer in Philadelphia, working with at-risk children for 10 years before she retired.

In recent times, she opened a shooting clinic and in May 2010, wrote an autobiography book of her life and basketball called, "Love, Pain & Passion . . . The Heart of a Champion."

Cheyney coach Marilyn Stephens, a former Temple all-American who played against Page while at Gratz High, noted they also played together in the Sonny Hill League and other local all-star leagues along with former Cheyney star Yolanda Laney.

"She called me last year to tell me about the book and I could buy it on eBay," Stephens said.

"I told her, 'No, Linda. I'm coming to your book-signing party. I want one for me and one for my team.' We stayed in touch. One of my players is reading the book now. I was going to have Linda come do a shooting clinic here.

"My players were looking forward to it. The news is so sad because now we'll never get the chance."

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