Tony’s Top-Cat takes TOC
The 28th version of Catasauqua’s Tournament of Champions proved to be an old-fashioned basketball barnburner.
Top-Cat, the champion of the nearby Stiles League, defended its title with a tight-knit, 62-59 win over Ohlson’s Landscaping to capture the crown.
Derek Hall hit John Amoroso for a layup with roughly 15 seconds remaining in the game to help Top-Cat to the title. It was a close contest throughout the night, as the tournament featured its share of interesting games.
Teams from Allentown, Allentown JCC, Bangor, Catasauqua, Catty Over 35, North Catasauqua, Stiles and Summit Hill participated.
“This was a good tournament,” said director Eric Snyder about the four-day event. “We had good crowds through the tournament and there was plenty of enthusiasm around.
“We saw plenty of good basketball and it was great to see the tournament progress another year.”
Brett Zieber, a former Catasauqua player and current assistant boys’ coach, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). Zieber had 41 points – 12 three-pointers in his team’s quarterfinal win, and he had 12 points – most of them in the second half – in the final.
Former Allen standout and current Bethlehem Catholic assistant Garrett Johnson led Top-Cat with 15 points.
Zieber had a good feeling about his team’s chances as they all have been playing together for a long time.
“That was the first time in organized ball that I scored that many points,” said Zieber. “After my first shot went in, and then my second, I figured I was in for a good night.
“We all had a good feeling from the start to the finish. We have been playing together for 10 years and we all know each other well
“A lot of us know each other over the years and we can still go out and play very competitively when we have to. We were hanging out with the other teams from the semifinals. This is a great tournament, and I hope to play in it as long as I can depending if my knees can hold up.”
Snyder also began to realize Zieber was going to have a good night, and he, too, appreciates the camaraderie and respect for the tournament.
“I was running around and I remember hearing the PA announcer saying ‘Zieber for three, Zieber for three,’” he said. “I knew it was going to be a big night for him.
“It was good to see these guys coming back every year to play. They all know each other, but they are all out to win. Every year, we are glad that we can have this tournament. There are not many leagues around anymore and there used to be leagues in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Northampton and other areas.”
Phil Hall, a former Northampton player and current boys’ assistant coach, enjoys the annual summer play with his brother Derek, who had been playing in Europe and Asia.
“We get together every summer and it is a great time,” said Hall. “My brother and I got to play together in college (Albright) when I was a senior. He has been playing overseas and this tournament gives us a chance to play together every year.
“He always is our unsung hero, and we go how he goes with everything. This is a great tournament every year, and we all hope we can play and it can last for a long time.”