B-Q CYO Hosts Championship Series

Game action at the CYO Interdiocesan Basketball Classic. Photo (C) Jim Mancari

Already a pillar of sportsmanship and fair play, the Brooklyn/Queens CYO further spread its message by hosting the first-ever Interdiocesan CYO Boys’ Basketball Classic March 31 at St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows.

Eight teams from the Diocese of Brooklyn squared off against their Long Island counterparts from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which encompasses Nassau and Suffolk counties. To qualify for the interdiocesan championships, the teams had to win their individual division’s diocesan championship on March 25. Teams from the fifth-eighth grade ‘A’ and ‘B’ divisions were represented.

The Brooklyn/Queens schools started off the day with three consecutive victories, but the Long Island schools won the final five matchups.

Brooklyn/Queens CYO executive director Deacon Joe Catanello and sports coordinator Keith Goldberg joined forces with the Nassau/Suffolk staff, comprised of executive director Frank Seely, program director Margaret Johnson and recreational specialists Ginny Sweet and Rese Sangirardi.

“We both had the same idea at the same time, and it worked out perfectly,” Deacon Catanello said. “Here they get a chance to expand and see their other CYO family.  Meeting new people and sharing new ideas worked out beautifully. It’s a community thing.”

Johnson was the mastermind behind the interdiocesan competition. On March 3, St. Dominic’s H.S., Oyster Bay, L.I., hosted the first-ever Girls’ Interdiocesan Basketball Classic.

“It’s something I really wanted to do for a number of years,” Johnson said.  “We were very excited about it. We agreed that we’d host one and they’d host one. It’s just a different sort of thing than the regular season. You can’t beat it.”

The full day of basketball began at 8:30 a.m. at the Prep. Each game started off with the customary CYO prayer and both teams shaking hands at center court.  For CYO, learning the values associated with playing sports are more important than winning or losing.

“We’re bringing the kids together, and they’re working together with a sense of community and unity and that symbolizes the church,” Deacon Catanello said.

A nice attraction of the day included the chance for the young athletes to play against teams they normally would not see.

“It gives the kids an opportunity to play talent from another area that they haven’t played before,” Seely said. “Anytime you can go up against somebody that you haven’t played before, it gives you a way to measure where you are with your skill level.”

“It allows the kids to play outside their normal scope, but it also reinforces to both dioceses that we are trying to teach sportsmanship through the realm of sports,” Goldberg said.

The Brooklyn/Queens and Nassau/Suffolk CYO directors agreed that they wanted the tournament to be more about community rather than rivalry. In order to emphasize this goal, both the winning and losing teams were awarded a trophy.  Deacon Catanello said that everyone he spoke to about the event seemed to have a good time.

“I think everyone is satisfied that they got to play and they played to the best of their ability,” Goldberg said.

The Interdiocesan Championships conclude the CYO basketball season. CYO expressed gratitude to the referees, who officiated the games free of charge, and St. Francis Prep for providing the venue. If all goes according to plan, the Interdiocesan Championships will become an annual event.

Here are the results of the day’s games:

Novice A: Our Lady of the Angelus, Rego Park, 53; St. Rose of Lima, Massapequa, 45

Novice B: St. Luke’s, Whitestone, 23; Our Lady of Victory, Floral Park, 22

Bantam A: Our Lady of Trust, Canarsie, 45; St. Cyril, Deer Park, 36

Bantam B: St. Aloysius, Great Neck, 39; Good Shepherd, Marine Park, 14

Rookie A: St. Agnes, Rockville Centre, 57; St. Anastasia, Douglaston, 47

Rookie B: St. Cyril, 70; Resurrection/Ascension, Rego Park, 37

Intermediate A: St. Agnes, 64; St. Mary Magdalene, Springfield Gardens, 55

Intermediate B: St. William the Abbott, Seaford, 62; Immaculate Conception Monastery, Jamaica, 57

Brooklyn/Queens Sports Round-Up

Molloy’s Russ Smith Shined for Louisville

University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky., sophomore guard Russ Smith played his high school basketball at Archbishop Molloy, Briarwood. The Louisville Cardinals advanced to the Final Four in this year’s NCAA Tournament, before losing a 69-61 contest to in-state rival University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., on March 31.

Smith averaged 11.5 points per game during the regular season, but he stepped his game up even further during “March Madness.” He tallied 12.4 points per game during the Cardinals’ five-game tournament run.

His top game came on March 24, when he led Louisville with 19 points – coming off the bench no less – in a 72-68 Elite Eight victory over the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.

Mike Baxter Makes Mets

Molloy product Mike Baxter earned a spot on the New York Mets’ 25-man roster. The corner outfielder could see time as a left-handed pinch hitter and may even spell Ike Davis at first base.

St. John’s Moe Harkless Declares for NBA Draft

St. John’s University, Jamaica, standout freshman swingman Moe Harkless announced March 19 that he would enter the 2012 NBA Draft.

“It has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA, and I am excited to have that opportunity to make the jump,” said Harkless. “I am grateful to my teammates and coaches at St. John’s.”

Harkless was named the 2011-12 Big East Rookie of the Year. He averaged 15.5 points per game, which ranked him second in the conference and sixth in the nation among rookies.

“We are proud of what Moe and our young group accomplished this season,” said St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin. “Moe is an example that St. John’s is once again a destination for top-caliber talent and we look forward to following his progress.”

Harkless will attempt to become the first Red Storm player drafted since 2001 when Omar Cook (Christ the King R.H.S.) was drafted by the Orlando Magic in the second round.

The NBA Draft takes place June 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

SJU Women Advanced To the Sweet 16

The St. John’s University women’s basketball advanced to the Sweet 16 in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The team was eliminated March 24, losing a 74-47 contest to No. 2 seeded Duke University, Durham, N.C.