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In Memory: Ralph Leng

Baldwin-Whitehall's Leng was a 1955 NIT champion.

There was a time when the National Invitation Tournament was the best college basketball event in the country and its champion was considered the best scholastic team in the land.

That was the case in 1955 when the Duquesne University Dukes won the NIT behind the superb play of Sihugo Green, a future No. 1 NBA draft choice.

Green's practice partner that year?: Baldwin Borough's Ralph Leng, who died on Sunday after a yearlong battle with leukemia, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Leng, who was 77, graduated from the now-defunct St. Wendelin High School in Pittsburgh before earning his piece of the national title by sharpening the play of Green and the rest of Duquesne's starting lineup.

"The coaches looked at my dad and figured he was the same size as Sihugo Green (about 6 feet 2) and played the same position," Ralph's son Mark told the Post-Gazette, "so it would be a good matchup at practice.

"Of course, he may have been about the same size as Sihugo, but he wasn't nearly the same talent level. But hey, one of those two went on to be the first pick in the NBA draft."

Though his family moved to Baldwin at a young age, Leng was a Whitehall Borough resident at the time of his death, according to an obituary on the John F. Slater Funeral Home website.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held for Leng at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church in Baldwin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, following a 9:15 funeral prayer at Slater Funeral Home in Brentwood Borough.

Leng was an Air Force veteran, was a member of Lions Club International for over 40 years and owned Leng Insurance Agency in Whitehall's Caste Village.

In lieu of flowers, Leng's family is suggesting that contributions be made to the Whitehall Community Lions Club or to the Cloverleaf Area Food Bank.

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Robert Edward Healy, III February 07, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Great new photo added. Thank you to Duquesne University Athletics' media relations office for the find.

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