Parish teams face off in CYO championship
Deacon Tom Picciano
Sun contributing writer
ENDICOTT — It was a unique CYO championship game. The winning parish was known before the tip-off. Only the team and the score were to be determined.
“It was a hard fought game,” said Father Charles Currie, pastor of St. Ambrose. Father Currie had made an announcement at Mass the week prior to the game, encouraging parishioners to attend. And when game time came, he was there as were 100 spectators. Father Currie described the game as “exciting.” He stayed to the very end, with one point deciding the contest. St. Ambrose Red defeated St. Ambrose Gray by a score of 64-63 to become the champion of the Broome County CYO Non-Parishioner division.
“Both teams, being powerhouses, were intent on winning,” said Tara Connelly, Broome County CYO JV/Varsity Basketball Coordinator. “The crowd never had time to quiet; the excitement of basket against basket went on throughout the game, right down to the last second.”
St. Ambrose Red Coach Joe Robinson described his emotions in the final seconds of the game.
“St. Ambrose Red had the lead and the ball with 20 seconds remaining: ‘Anxious.’ The kids were instructed to relax, get the ball in-bounds, run the clock out, and to call a timeout if they got trapped with no other options. Red in-bounded the ball, got to half-court and turned over the ball on what appeared (to me) to be a blatant foul, the referee did not make any call: ‘Upset,’” Robinson said.
“St Ambrose Gray took the ball in for a basket and the lead with only nine seconds remaining on the clock. Red in-bounded the ball, passed it to the open man, Colin Elliot, who took the ball to the basket with determination. The ball went into the basket with two seconds remaining and the Gray team could only in-bound the ball and make a full court attempt at a basket. St. Ambrose Red was the champion: ‘Happy,’” he said.
Last year, St. Ambrose requested the change which allowed teams with rosters of more community members than parishioners to form teams. The parish followed it up by holding a tournament for teams which didn’t have a record good enough to make it to the playoffs. When the CYO formed teams for the 2010-2011 season, those parishes with less than five parishioners on their team went into the Non-Parishioner division.
“With possible New York State budget cuts, schools may be forced to downsize or eliminate some of their athletic programs. CYO may find more and more parishes embracing the student athletes of the community, combining with their parishioner athletes, to see the CYO program flourish in our local areas,” Connelly said.
“The St. Ambrose CYO program runs the gamut of athleticism. You will find athletes that should be playing school basketball, but for their own reasons choose not to. You will also find kids with less talent, but again, for their own reasons, are looking for a place to belong and for someone to care. It is because of the excellence and dedication of the coaches that these two types of athletes combined so well,” she said.
“The game was a microcosm of the importance of CYO sports in the lives of so many of our community’s youth,” said St. Ambrose Gray coach Tony Lindsey. “Without CYO, countless number of youth would be left without places to play. That game showed the pride that the athletes have when they represent the team and respective parish. With all the negatives that we are presented about today’s youth, it was an example of how positive programs help youth move in the right direction and learn valuable life lessons.”
St. Ambrose Red Coach Joe Robinson said it was a very successful season. “We were able to get several kids off the streets and into the gym working and learning basketball. Also, we were able to mix the teams with kids from different schools, different social and economic backgrounds, and family structures,” he said.
Most of the players on the St. Ambrose teams were from 10th to 12th grade, although one student was an eighth grader.
Each team had several players with points in the double digits. St. Ambrose (Red): Marshall Tallon, 16; Trevor McDonald, 12; Thomas Enfield, 11; Brandon McGoff, 10; Collin Elliot, 10. St. Ambrose (Gray): Eric Braxton, 19; Nate Williams, 16; Nick Weathers, 14.
After that last-second basket dropped and St. Ambrose emerged the winner —and the runner-up — the teams, the coaches and the spectators were treated to a post-game pizza party.
The Broome County CYO basketball divisions have completed some 2010-2011 championships, others are still ahead:
Varsity Parishioner Division: Church of the Holy Family defeated St Patrick
Varsity Non Parishioner Division:
St. Ambrose Red defeated St. Ambrose Gray
J.V. Parishioner Division: St. Mary/St. Paul defeated St Anthony
J.V. Non Parishioner Division: St. Patrick defeated Church of the Holy Family
Grammar-school level games will be played in March.
A cheerleading competition will be held March 6 at 1 p.m. in the Binghamton
University Event Center.