On Thursday, Jan. 3, the Erie Diocesan High School CYO Basketball League officially began. With the schedules released, every team will play each other twice in the regular season. On a game day, which are usually Sundays or Thursdays, six of the teams will be playing while one team has a bye. Saint Jude was put on the schedule, so they will be able to compete this season.
As listed, the three games on the season opening date were Blessed Sacrament vs. Saint Peter, Saint George vs. Saint Luke, and Saint James vs. Our Lady of Peace. Meanwhile, the Jude’s Dudes took the night off on a bye.
Blessed Sacrament vs. Saint Peter
The previously predicted 3-seed Blessed Sacrament traveled to the Dukes Dome to challenge Saint Peter, predicted to be the fourth best team in the league. In the beginning of the game, the Dukes built and early lead due to their high intensity play, catching Blessed Sacrament flat footed, once leading by a margin of 21 points. Also, the small size of the court affected the game, with Blessed Sacrament being unable to gain proper spacing and making simple turnovers. Saint Peter’s took advantage of this, as they were already used to the small court. They were successful in frustrating the other team, interrupting their offensive flow. Once St. Peter’s starting five eventually were substituted out, they began to lose some their their large lead. After halftime, this same trend continued with Blessed Sacrament picking away their deficit. Eventually, towards the beginning of the fourth quarter, the game was just about even. The game soon became a complete fourth quarter battle. At the final buzzer, Saint Peter would close out the win with a final score of 52-49.
Dominic MacArthur, a captain for the Saint Peter squad, shared how the game played out from his team’s perspective. “The home court advantage certainly played an important factor this game, partially responsible for out big lead early. Our energy in the beginning and end of the game certainly made up for our slump where we let off of the gas pedal.”
Jimmy Colvin of the Blessed Sacrament Bulldogs shared his perspective of the game. “The early lead we gave up ended up being what cost us the game,” he said. “In the beginning, we were not used to the size of the court, not having fun, and came out with our feet stuck in concrete. As a result, we ended up playing the entire game behind, trying to climb out of the hole we put ourselves in. If the team started at a higher energy, we likely would have walked away with the win.”
Saint George vs. Saint Luke
The Lancers mounted up to take on the Crusaders away from home on opening night. Saint George was predicted to be the fifth best team in the league, while Saint Luke was predicted to be number two in the standings. In this game, Saint Luke’s lack of experience certainly showed. It was many of the players’ first game of organized basketball since middle school. Throughout all four quarters, Saint Luke failed to get the open looks they would have liked and failed to knock down many shots when they created them. This weakness was a strength of the Saint George unit. They displayed great team chemistry and organization, using an effective 2-3 zone to capitalize on Saint Luke’s shooting slump. Despite this, the Crusaders kept the game close, relying more on athletic ability to get things done. They were only down 5 points in the third quarter, but that is when the game snowballed out of control. After Rockne Seidel, a primary offensive option and a top player for the Crusaders, fouled out of the game, the team fell apart. The final score ended up being 46-29 in favor of the Lancers, after they had capitalized on the fourth quarter situation.
Saint Luke’s starting center, Andrew Samuels, commented, “The boys didn’t play to our full potential. Our lack of experience playing together certainly showed, and our overall team chemistry is not where it needs to be; however, this is something we expect to build over the course of the season. The Crusaders will be more threatening in games to come.”
Saint George talent Daniel O’Brien discussed how exactly his team got the victory, saying, “We made more shots than the other team. This game is all about putting the ball in the basket.”
Saint James vs. Our Lady of Peace
The predicted number one team in the league, Our Lady of Peace, had the opportunity to defend their home court from Saint James, predicted as the second-to-last team in the league. As the team ranking would suggest, there was a large difference in talent comparing these two teams, and the final score showed it. Saint James was overwhelmed by OLP’s dynamic offense. Around five or more players on OLP’s roster scored double-digit points in this game. Our Lady of Peace, only giving up about 25 points, won by a staggering margin of 65 points. Billy DeLuca, a spirited member of OLP, simply described the game as “a blowout.”
In seeing how all three of these initial CYO games resulted, fans can expect even more skillful and entertaining competition from these local parish teams. With a great start to the new CYO season, expect even more spectacular basketball in weeks to come.