High school sports are all about tradition. At Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, the annual winter tradition to get everyone in the holiday spirit is the Brother Arnold Memorial Basketball Tournament.
For the 35th year, the three-day Brother Arnold tournament captivated New York City basketball fans during the second weekend of December.
This year’s field of eight teams featured an even split between top local CHSAA and PSAL varsity boys’ hoops teams, including McClancy; Richmond Hill H.S.; Salesian H.S., New Rochelle; William Cullen Bryant H.S., Long Island City; St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows; Campus Magnet H.S., Cambria Heights; La Salle Academy, Manhattan; and Queens Metropolitan H.S., Forest Hills.
For the second straight year, host McClancy won the tournament, defeating La Salle in the championship game, 56-54.
Alonzo Ortiz-Traylor was named tournament MVP for the second straight year.
With the bulk of regular season games on the horizon, the tournament allows the participating teams to see how they stack up during the pre-season.
“We use it (the tournament) to see what we have deep in our bench, and we also use it to see who our starters are and try to get everyone on track with each other,” said Ortiz-Traylor, a senior forward for McClancy. “We aren’t trying to go too deep into everything. We’re trying to get the basics down so everyone is on board with each other.”
“It gives us an idea of where we should be with defense and offense,” said Crusaders senior guard Jonathan Ruiz. “Without defense, you’re not going to get any offense. As we continue playing, we’ll get it together.”
The tournament honors the memory of Brother Arnold Bakutis, S.C., a former athletic director and physical education chairman as well as a teacher at McClancy who was instrumental in the development of the school’s athletics program.
Sadly, Brother Arnold died of a heart attack while jogging on McClancy’s track on May 22, 1980, at the age of 55. To honor him, former McClancy boys’ head basketball coach Don Kent started the tournament.
“As a school community, we can’t forget that we’re run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart,” said Anthony Olszewski, McClancy’s current head boys’ coach and a 2001 graduate of the school who played in the tournament. “For a guy like Brother Arnold who did so much for the CHSAA, not just McClancy, playing in his honor is important to keep brother’s memory going.”
Adding to the tradition feel of the tournament, the student body and many former McClancy players attend the games. The Christmas season is all about community, and that’s clearly seen during the annual tournament.
With another Brother Arnold tournament in the books, these teams now turn their attention to their competitive slate of regular season CHSAA and PSAL games.
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