CYO girl hoopsters face off in tourney

OYSTER BAY — After months of competing against local opponents, championship girls’ basketball teams from Nassau-Suffolk and Brooklyn-Queens CYOs squared off against each other March 3 in a first-time tournament.

From nine in the morning, into the early evening, 16 teams from grades five through eight met in the 2012 CYO Classic at St. Dominic High School gymnasium here, facing an opponent from the neighboring diocese.

The eighth-grade girls from St. Stanislaus, Maspeth, Queens, won their match 46-44 in a closely-contested game against Christ the King from Commack, which was decided by a basket scored in the closing seconds as the buzzer sounded.

“That was exciting,” said Rese Sangirardi, recreation specialist for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Nassau-Suffolk, which organized the tournament. The eight games had the two champions from each grade —one from the upper bracket and one from the lower bracket — from Nassau-Suffolk face their counterparts from Brooklyn-Queens.

Parents and other family members came out to watch the games, and at least one younger brother got so excited that he ran out onto the court during the game.

“This was a way to give the girls one more game at the end of the season and to play an opponent that would challenge them,” Sangirardi said. “Last spring we had a tournament like this for volleyball.”

Frank Seely, Nassau-Suffolk CYO director, said that Margaret Johnson,  program manager, first reached out to neighboring dioceses and initiated the tournament.

“It turned out to be a wonderful day,” Seely said. A similar tournament is planned for March 31 with Nassau-Suffolk champions in boys’ basketball playing the champions from Brooklyn-Queens at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens.

“I always wanted to play teams from other dioceses,” said Deacon Joe Catanello, director of CYO for Brooklyn-Queens.

 “We want to gets the kids to realize that they are part of something bigger. The ‘C’ in ‘CYO’ stands for something,” Deacon Catanello said. They have a connection with the other diocese that is more concrete by facing their representatives on the basketball court, he said.
The kids also enjoyed themselves.

“It was good to play another game — especially against such a good team,” said Samantha Bouchard, an eighth-grader from Christ the King. Her team trailed during most of the game but came back to make the game close and even pull ahead a few times. In the closing minutes the lead changed hands several times.

“I think we played a good game but it wasn’t quite enough,” Samantha said.

“We’re still Nassau-Suffolk champs,” her teammate, Jackie DelliSanti noted.

“They played very well,” said Ciara Walsh, from the victorious St. Stanislaus squad. “We just managed to make the final score.”

Seely praised the sportsmanship of all the teams and the generosity of everyone involved. “St. Dominic’s had such a wonderful gym and they let us use it for free. The referees also waived their fees to officiate at the games.”

“We were glad to do it,” Jeff Keim, one of the referees, said. “It was a great day.”