Carl and Karen Fowler will never forget the first time they saw their grandson, Carl Wallace, play a varsity basketball game for Frankford High.
Unfortunately, they witnessed only about 84 percent.
Like almost everyone else, save school personnel, the Fowlers yesterday were ejected from Frankford's packed gym with 5 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in a Public A classic.
Some of Olney's adult fans kept heaping verbal abuse on players and referees. Some of Frankford's students responded. There was no fighting, but school personnel made the decision to clear the gym, resulting in a 35-minute delay.
"My grandparents were pretty upset," Wallace said. "They kept saying how the whole thing was crazy, and how people are crazy.
"The thing was, I didn't know they were coming. They wanted to surprise me. They came up to me before the game, and it was so nice to see them . . . Then they had to leave."
With luck, the Fowlers might have been able to see the rest of the game through a window. Did they try?
"Nah," Wallace said last night. "Too cold for that. They sat in their car, then drove me home."
Well, Grandpop and Grandmom, in case he wasn't too revealing (you know how kids can be), Carl fashioned quite the performance as Frankford triumphed, 56-52. Aside from posting seven rebounds, three assists and four steals, the 6-4, 165-pound junior, a forward-center, shot 11-for-15 en route to 25 points.
During the delay, the teams returned to their locker rooms.
"I was mad," Wallace said. "A great game was going on, then it just stopped. At first coach [Ben] Dubin was breaking down what we had to do to make sure we won. Then we had some down time. We were just talking and cracking jokes.
"I never went through something like that. A long delay. They throw everybody out. Amazing. My body went cold in the locker room. At least they gave us maybe 2 minutes to warm back up."
Frankford led at the unscheduled break, 42-39. With 0:09 left, Olney (Jesse "Boog" Morgan 16 points) had a chance to tie, but Tito Burgos missed the first of two free throws and his second, though successful, was nixed by a lane violation. Harold Hicks (seven assists) then added two clinchers for the Pioneers.
Though Wallace, who lives near Benner and Torresdale, in Tacony, could have been a varsity player last season, he instead opted for full-time JV duty.
"We lost good seniors, so somebody had to step up," he said. "I was hoping I'd be starting, but I didn't know it until the first game when coach called my name to go out on the court.
"I work hard in practice. I also listen to my coach. I make smart passes and go up strong."
Wallace also runs pretty well.
"When they made us run a mile in training, I always won," he said. "I'm thinking of running middle-distance events for the track team." *