CYO basketball season tips off in Fort Wayne
By Ron Busch
December is here, and that means “basketball” in CYO sports circles. The breakdown of leagues this year, as last year, falls into three leagues for both girls’ and boys’ basketball. Schools are placed according to enrollment.
The Gold League is for large schools. Based on student–athlete numbers, the Gold teams may be eighth grade only, or combined seventh and eighth grade. In last year’s end-of-season tournament, the girls’ Gold League champions were the St. Vincent Panthers. The boys’ Gold League championship went to the St. Charles Borromeo Cardinals.
The Blue League is for smaller schools, and likewise may include combined seventh- and eighth-grade teams, or just eighth-grade. Last year’s girls’ Blue League winner was St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel. The boys’ Blue League tournament champ was Most Precious Blood.
The White League is reserved for seventh grade-only teams, regardless of school size. The seventh-grade girls from St. Charles Borromeo walked off with the girls’ top honors last year, while the boys’ seventh-grade top White League team was St. Vincent.
Blue League coach Justin Allen, of the championship boys’ team from Most Precious Blood, is excited about the upcoming season.
“We recently found out that we’re being bumped up to the Gold League due to realignment in the Blue League. Our team is tough, with a mix of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boys. We’re eager to play the big schools and have a productive year.”
One of Coach Allen’s competitors in the new alignment will be St. Charles Coach Dan Sordulet’s team. This is Sordulet’s 20th season with the St. Charles Cardinals; last year, his team captured top boys’ Gold League honors.
Coach Mark Scudder and the St. Vincent Panthers have eight eighth-grade girls this year. Last year, in the White League, his seventh-grade team won end-of-season tournament honors. This year he’s following the kids up to eighth grade and will continue with the squad. He identifies them as a “fun group of kids.” They are out for another successful season.
Moving forward from a successful CYO football season, the St. Charles basketball team has been impressive as well. Andrea Fisher coached last year’s seventh-grade girls’ team , and she’s excited about this year’s team as well.
“They’re a hardworking group of girls that are open to coaching. I have enjoyed getting to know them. I continue to challenge them in every practice to build upon their basketball skills and cohesiveness as a team. I’m excited that the season is starting, and look forward to this year with this group of girls.” Coach Fisher’s assistants will include husband Jason and daughter Victoria, a Bishop Dwenger junior and St. Charles basketball alumnus.Many of the CYO teams were involved in the Thanksgiving weekend Queen of Angels Invitational. This was the 24th year of the tournament, held at the University of Saint Francis. The boys and girls played double-elimination games, with 10 teams in the boys’ brackets. The girls’ competition featured five teams and eight games. The boys’ championship went to the St. Vincent seventh-grade team, an athletic group with good shooting and ball-handling skills. Girl’s tournament winner was the St. Charles eighth-grade team from St. Charles, coached by Brooke Neuhaus.
“We have a very talented group of girls playing for St. Charles,” Neuhaus said. “They’ve gotten better over the years of playing together.”
Plenty of CYO basketball action is scheduled: The weekend of Dec. 3-4 featured some 21 games at various Catholic school gyms around Fort Wayne. All the schools are looking forward to exciting play featuring more than a few talented CYO student athletes.