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.
With a major tournament on the horizon, Catasauqua’s playground men’s basketball league is also winding down its season. The 10-team league playoffs began in July and recently concluded leading up to the start of the Tournament of Champions, which begins next week (see related story above).
Ohlson Landscaping defeated the Nites 76-70 to win the Catty League title. They advance to the TOC along with the Blue Monkey, which was the regular season champ.
Twenty-eight years ago, Eric Snyder had one of those night’s where he couldn’t sleep.
He remembered a passage from a book written by legendary college football coach Lou Holtz who stated that he would “get up and do something to make him tired.”
So Snyder decided to follow the initiative. He had his concept and groundwork for the then initial Tournament of Champions, but he wanted to add another twist. Snyder wanted it to be a rotating tournament in which a different league every year would be the host site.
With the task of playing five games in five days, Catasauqua’s Connie Mack team nearly answered every challenge.
The Roughies’ run in the double-elimination state tournament ended Tuesday night with a 5-3 loss to Coplay. Catasauqua finished with a 2-2 overall record in the tournament.
The Roughies had a 6-5 win over Deep Run in their opener then had to complete two suspended games due to rain the following day, losing to Doylestown 11-1 and beating Emmaus 10-5.
Robert “Wabs” Chromiak remembers the nights at Catasauqua American Legion Post 215 when it once seemed like the social events never ended.
“We had bowling leagues just about every night, and there were so many other things going on,” he said. Chromiak 84, is a veteran of the Korean War and a member of the local post for 50 years.
“We had a lot of members, and it really was a great place to be. I played on basketball and baseball teams and also golfed in their tournaments.”
Time have changed.
Kenzie Bradley couldn’t imagine her life with sports. Since she was four, it has been a passion and an anchor in her life.
“I participate in anything I can,” said the soon-to-be senior at Catasauqua High School. “I started with T-ball and it has continued ever since. I just really enjoy playing something all the time. I really don’t need any breaks from sports.”
Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Bradley excelled in basketball, field hockey, and track for the Roughies this past season. As a result, she was chosen as the Catasauqua Press Female Athlete of the Year.
Among all of their individual honors, both Ben Nosal and Ryan Greene shared some common thoughts about their life lessons through athletics as recently graduated student-athletes at Catasauqua.
“Through athletics, I now know I can handle situations in life better,” said Nosal. “You learn about morals and values and how to apply and realize them in life. Sports also taught me to keep working at something even if you are not succeeding with it initially.
Northampton Legion head coach Mike Bodnar likely will remember this past Father’s Day.
Aside from his family’s celebrations, Bodnar watched his Northampton Legion team take stock of itself and begin a rampage that has carried them to the top seed in the playoffs and Northampton County League finals.
“We lost to East Stroudsburg and we played badly” said Bodnar. “I benched four players and the coaches agreed with me that we had to send a message. Our play just wasn’t acceptable.
“That really sunk in because we haven’t lost since then.”
In the early part of the season, Zach Bilder was a mainstay on the mound for Catasauqua in the Lehigh Valley Connie Mack League.
However, Bilder left the team in the middle of the season to join his Legion squad.
To their credit, Bilder made a timely return in the opening round of the playoffs.
Bilder tossed a complete-game three hitter and recorded 12 strikeouts to lead Catasauqua to a 3-1 victory over Pen Argyl Monday night.
With the win, Catty will advance to meet Northampton in the second round, single-elimination game Wednesday evening.
Catasauqua head boys’ basketball coach Eric Snyder was impressed with his team’s showing in the recent prestigious Cedar Beach Bash as well as their overall showing in the Catty leagues this summer.
He also sees his team developing chemistry and depth, two key elements that could help produce a favorable winter season.