2022 CYO Preview

2022 CYO Preview

Hayden Hutchinson, Managing Editor

What’s the most exciting thing people experience? Some would say important family events, getting into colleges, or having a favorite team win a championship; however, all these answers pale in comparison to the most exciting thing anyone has experienced: CYO season. Many students have noted all the buzz surrounding the season in the classroom and the hallways, as some people (Aiden Gromley) have been talking a lot of trash. CYO is a great tradition that many teachers have also participated in.

“As a player, one of the best parts at Prep was everyone getting so involved,” said Cathedral Prep theology teacher Mr. Peck. “When I went here we kept the standings in a teacher’s classroom. There were 18 teams, and we would talk about the games that happened on Sunday and then preview the games on Thursday. And then on Friday we would talk about the Thursday game and preview for Sunday’s games. It was really fun to have something that meant a considerable amount to so many students and got us through the long winter months.”

While there may not be 18 teams anymore, the talent has been condensed to five teams who all have something different to offer. With that, here is a specialized preview for each team.

Blessed Sacrament

Why they can win: The reigning champions return some of their best players from last year with seniors Noah Lauria, Reece Johnson, Isaiah Tavani, and Aiden Gromley looking to defend their crown. They also boast new and upcoming talent with Andrew DiSanza and Jason Ellman making their debuts. There is a lot of talent on this team, and they have been here before, which is what makes them one of the favorites to win it all. Not only is their team talented, they played at the feared Dawg Dome where they were undefeated at home last year. Their coaches also try and help by talking trash to the opposing teams players up to and including “Griddying” on players who commit turnovers. Senior Noah Lauria will come off the bench and give Blessed Sacrament a Lou Williams-like spark. If teams are not careful Blessed Sacrament will score quicker than Chris Paul choking in a Game 7.

Why they will struggle: Even with all the talent Blessed Sacrament has they are lacking two things, height and coaching experience. They have Jacob Applebee who is 6’2″ but other than him their team is mostly guards. As a result they will look to push the ball and play on the run like the Golden State Warriors. On Sunday’s game, lack of playing time for the reincarnated mean rebounding machine Aiden Gromley meant the Jude’s Dudes dominated the boards. This is also their coach’s first season at the helm, and they are learning the secrets of CYO on the fly. Expect many subs and a fast-paced game when the Bulldogs come to play.

Player to watch: Andrew DiSanza. After playing JV basketball last year, DiSanza boasts some of the best ball handling skills in the league and can push the pace for the Bulldogs who like to run. He scored 14 in Sunday’s debut against the Judes Dudes. He is like Donovan Mitchell, leading the team with his shooting prowess and passing skills.

St. Jude

Why they can win: While it once seemed their season was in peril, the Jude’s Dudes are back and better than ever. They have the leagues most seasoned vet in senior Frankie Riley but also have major young talent in sophomore Logan Sauers and freshman Thomas Shaughnessy. Expect the Jude’s Dudes to show grit on the court as they resemble the grit-and-grind Grizzlies of the early 2010s (Yes, A.J O’Neil is Zach Randolph 2.0). The Raiders palace is a dangerous home court advantage with raucous fans. Expect an intense environment when playing on West 6th Street. Another advantage is they play with a big physical presence similar to playing against a prime Legion of Boom except it is basketball. The Jude’s Dudes racked up a grand total of 31 fouls in their home opener. Have an ice bath prepared for after facing the Jude’s Dudes.

Why they will struggle: The Jude’s Dudes lack depth, which may be a problem with their foul trouble issues. They have a few big men with A.J., Thomas, and Tin being most of the depth they have in the front court. For example, A.J. fouled out after long intense battles in the paint and due to their physical style this could happen often. Also, like Blessed Sacrament, they have new coaches, so expect a learning curve with plays and late game situations. They will try and slow the game down and create good shots in the half court in order to help themselves win.

Player to watch: Francis Riley. The most experienced player in the league, Frank is ready to lead the Jude’s Dudes with his maturity. On Sunday, he finished perfect from the field and ended the game with 10 points.

“CYO is the most entertaining and the most competitive league Erie has seen in years,” said Frank Riley, senior forward. “As the leader and captain of the Jude’s Dudes, we plan on mopping everyone and everything off of the court. We are all business this year. We have a stacked bench as well. Watch for James ‘Fessy’ Fessler and his sharpshooting abilities as he will not hesitate to ‘let it fly’ from literally anywhere on the court. Also, don’t forget about the crazy Matt Costa and his intense hustle and determination on defense. You better believe the Jude’s dudes will be in the state tournament at the end of the year. Don’t forget to come to our games as well. We put on a great show as always.”

Our Lady of Peace

Why they can win: The two main reasons Our Lady of Peace should put up a big challenge to claim the city crown are experience and size. The Crusaders return almost their full team from a decent campaign last season. They also brought in new players, including superstar forward Chris Platz from Fairview. The Crusaders also have one of the biggest teams in the league with Aidan Samueloff, Chris Platz, Hayden Hutchinson, and Patrick Drexler all having the ability to play in the front court. The Crusader Court at the Father Daily Center should be an imposing place to play with loud home support. Look for junior Graydon Brugger and seniors Ryan Hudson, Andrew Rupp, Luke Longo, and Colin Izbiki to contribute to the team in different ways. With depth, size, and experience, look for the Crusaders to be a tough out during the season.

Why they will struggle: Lack of guard play and conditioning may let the Crusaders down this season. With so many big men playing, Our Lady of Peace lacks ball handling and a court general at some times. They will have to be careful against the press and good ball pressure. Another flaw for the team is with all their size they do not have many runners to get down the court. Some of their players need a breather after a couple times down the court, which if they need taken out, may affect the ceiling of the team. Either some of them need to join the cross country team during the season or it could end up being a long and tense season for the team. Look for them to try and push the pace when necessary but also slow it down when in control.

Player to watch: Chris Platz. While OLP has yet to make their season debut, Chris Platz is rumored to be among the league’s best. With a combination of size, strength, and vision, he is like the two-time reigning NBA MVP, Nikola Jokic and will be a player that is hard to stop. If he can stay healthy, expect big numbers and an MVP-like season (similar to the Joker) from the Fairview product.

St. George

Why they can win: The mystery team of the season came to play Sunday night with a big 15-point win over the St. Luke’s Crusaders. Led by Gus Campbell, not many are sure what to expect from the Lancers, but rumors of a Chet Holmgren lookalike are circling, and after a championship appearance last year, the team looks to try and repeat the success they found last year. The Lancers will try and use their court (the size of a large shoebox) to their advantage and make teams play a slower style. With a strong win on Sunday and not much else known, keep an eye out for the Lancers to either make a deep run or have a rough season.

Why they will struggle: With their small court many teams who have good size may be in for a treat as they are not the biggest team and the half court offense will be key, including rebounding. Many players not from Prep may also be a disadvantage because trash talk will become more difficult. Overall, Saint George could either be the 1996 Bulls or the 2010 Charlotte Bobcats. Stay tuned for more during the midseason review.

Player to watch: Gus Campbell. The middle school diocesan star delivered on Sunday with a team high 13 points. Look for him to be aggressive off the dribble and find outlets for the Lancers. By the end of the season don’t be surprised if he is in the MVP discussion.

St. Luke

Why they can win: Another team with a lot of experience, look for St. Luke’s to repeat a nice run to the semifinals last year. With seniors Akash Sharma, Trey Thompson, Derek Gorski, Ben Hawkins, and Jake Manendo and junior Eric Cox, St.Luke’s will look to have a balanced attack. A lot of their offense runs through Ben Hawkins, one of the best players in the league last season. The Crusaders will look to control the tempo of games and make other teams play to their strengths. Their gym also can be an advantage as it is the farthest distance to travel and one of the smaller courts in the league. It can be an intimidating place to play with many fans in attendance. Overall, look for the Crusaders to bounce back from an early loss to compete for the championship.

Why they will struggle: While they still have a lot of talent, the Crusaders lost one of their key pieces from last year in Ethan Bengal. They will need to replace his production in order to compete, but they have shown the ability to do so. They also need to be careful not to let an early loss trip them up as they have a tough game against the Bulldogs of Blessed Sacrament next on the schedule. Look for a hungry team to come out this Thursday.

Player to watch: Eric Cox. Look for Eric to put up around 8-10 points a game during the season. He is also a great rebounder so don’t be surprised if he averages around 10 a game this season. He plays aggressive and with high energy so look for him to be a double double machine similar to Evan Mobley in the NBA.

With these five teams primed for greatness, expect one of the most intense, nail-biting, fascinating, alluring, compelling, and captivating seasons in recent memory. Also, expect to hear a lot of trash talk and summaries of games in class and throughout the school. The environment on a game day is great, so come out and watch a game on Sunday or Thursday at 8:30. Plus, be sure to check in for the midseason report sometime in January.