By Anthony Bosco
After one season in the so-called SuperLeague, the 10-team, two-division ‘A’ league of the Catholic High School Athletic Association, several Queens coaches gave a big “thumbs up” to the experiment that formed what is regarded as the best high school basketball league in the country.
Though Bob Oliva and Paul Gilvary, coaches of Christ the King and Holy Cross, respectively, have had limited success in the league, which merged three teams from the old Bronx/Manhattan Diocesan with seven from Brooklyn/Queens, both praised the league after its inaugural campaign.
“I thought it was tremendous,” said Gilvary, who was one of the architects of the league. “It went better than I could have ever hoped it would. I thought a huge majority of the games were very competitive.”
Gilvary’s Knights finished the regular season with the worst league record of any of the CHSAA’s ‘A’ teams — one year after going all the way to the city semifinals — but did not blame his team’s struggles on the new league, which brought perennial powerhouse Rice, St. Raymond’s and All Hallows into league play with Cross, Christ the King, St. Francis Prep, Monsignor McClancy, Archbishop Molloy, Bishop Loughlin and Xaverian.
“We were going to struggle no matter what we did,” Gilvary said. “We did very well in our non-league games. We beat everyone else. If we kept the old B/Q league, we probably would have had the same record. For the overall betterment of the league it had to be done.”
The defection of LaSalle Academy to Division II or the ‘B’ league following last season, just a year after Cardinal Hayes had also jumped ship, left only three teams in the Bronx/Manhattan ‘A’ league. The merger was passed by a 6- 1 margin by the B/Q coaches.
The merger also went into effect on the junior varsity and freshman levels, something, Gilvary said, that will foster rivalries and familiarity with the league in the years to come.
“I just think, if you look at the lower levels, at the JV standings, every team is within one game of one another,” Gilvary said. “I think down the road we’re going to look back and see what a good decision this was.”
Bob Oliva echoed Gilvary’s sentiments, despite his team’s sub-.500 record in league play, a position the coach has not seen much of with the usually stacked CK roster.
“I think it’s good,” Oliva said. “Every game is like the Final Four. It’s challenging.”
The playoff system remains much as it has in years past, with the teams retreating to their former Diocesan tournaments, with St. Peter’s joining the Bronx/Manhattan schools for a four-team tournament to determine citywide seeds. The seven Brooklyn/Queens teams will participate in the annual tournament, starting this weekend.
The annual Brooklyn/Queens Tournament begins at St. Francis College Sunday at 1 p.m. when No. 2 Molloy takes on No. 7 Holy Cross. No. 3 Loughlin and No. 6 Prep follow at 3 p.m. and No. 4 Christ the King takes on No. 5 McClancy at 5 p.m.
Xaverian will play the CK-McClancy winner Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., preceded by the other semifinal match-up. The finals will be held Friday at 7:30 p.m., also at St. Francis College, the culmination of a tripleheader featuring the freshman and junior varsity championship games.
The citywide playoffs begin Sunday, March 3, with a tripleheader at St. John’s, followed by the quarterfinals Wednesday, March 6, and Thursday, March 7, at Iona College. The semis are slated for Sunday, March 10, at Fordham and the finals for Wednesday, March 13, also at Fordham.
Cathedral Prep 49, St. Agnes 45. Bradd Wierzbicki led the Crusaders with 13 points as Cathedral Prep improved to 11-13 overall and 9-5 in the CHSAA C league in the team’s last regular season contest.
Archbishop Molloy 86, St. Francis Prep 64. The Stanners, now 18-5 overall and 8-5 in league play, were led by Marlon Smith and Kevin Hamilton, who scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, to lead Molloy. The Terriers, now 2-12 in the league, were paced by sophomore Brian Geffen’s 35 points.
Monsignor McClancy 69, Holy Cross 64. Wesley Matthews powered the Crusaders with a team-high 26 points and Lavelle Pierre scored 12 off the bench as McClancy overcame a double-digit disadvantage in the second half. McClancy improves to 3-10, while Cross drops to 1-12.
Christ the King 63, Holy Cross 58. Mitchell Beauford scored 20 points and Japhet McNeil added 18 for the Royals. Miguel Gonzalez led the Knights with 21.
St. John the Baptist 84, Cathedral Prep 38. Donald Brown and Marvin Cheese combined for 36 points to lead St. John the Baptist over the Crusaders in this non-league match-up last week.
Bishop Loughlin 86, Monsignor McClancy 54. Lions star Curtis Sumpter poured in 24 points for Bishop Loughlin in this league game last week.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.