By Will Shepard ‘19
It’s that time of year again, where all of the average basketball players come out of hibernation in hopes of helping their team win the ultimate prize, a CYO championship. Let’s look at the top teams who will compete for the title. If your team didn’t make this list, send me an email telling me about your team and why you deserve a spot.
7Saint Angela Merici
This team is full of juniors and also filled with potential. They will try to play an uptempo game with focuses on shooting the ball. They have pretty good size for a Junior team with bigs such as Gabe Fini, 6’1”, and Bryce Seward, 6’. They hope to run their offense around Elliot Rodstrom, who has a great 3 point shooting stroke. Their defense is going to be a problem for them all year as it was last year. Their main focus right now is getting that first win of the year, and after that they hope everything will fall into place. This team could surprise a few people but for right now they rank at the bottom of the power rankings.
6Saint Joseph and John
This Joe’s and John’s basketball team is looking to play a nice up tempo offense with great ball movement to really open up the 3 point shot. They definitely can accomplish this goal with Eddie Keck running the offense. He will be able to find the open shooters such as Tim Zvoncheck and Graeme Agronin. With a nice mixture of homegrown Strongsville talent, they hope their chemistry works great together.
Graeme, who was their most improved player last season, has been very critical of the so called “super teams of CYO.” When I asked him about this he responded by saying “Our goal this year is to represent the old CYO days when superteams didn’t run rampant with players pulled from all over Northeast Ohio.” It will be fun to see if this team can back up what they are saying and make a run for the title.
5Saint Ignatius (Ranallo)
The top junior team in CYO comes in at number 5. This team can score, play defense, and has the talent to stay with the tough opponents. Varun Ravichandran will look to carry the team as his shooting has been compared to the likes of Steph Curry by scouts. He has a big man down low who can space the floor and hit 3’s in Jacob Shuckerow, who is 6’3”. Another big man they have is rebounder Liam Reilly. He and Dan Kimnach will do anything to get a board over the defenders, often called gritty by their coach.
This team may lack in size outside of Shuckerow, but they say they make it
up with heart, and that’s what you really need. They will play that fast pace, smash- mouth basketball that is so successful for CYO teams. Be on the lookout for this team.
Fast breaks and 3 pointers. That is the Saint Bridget Chargers style of play that works so well for them since they have the best shooting strokes in the league. Led by MVP candidates in Vinnie Riley and Nick “The Panda” Marsick, the Chargers hope to continue their success after a City Championship season last year. This team does not have too much size, but their center, Anthony “Big Body” Labate, is as strong as anyone on the court. A combination of instant scorers in Billy Arroyo and Luke Ols and defensive minded players in Dominic Stavole and Will Shepard fits perfectly in their system.
This team’s weakness is that teams could score on them in the paint almost at will. It will be interesting to see the defensive schemes they come up with to try and stop more physical teams. Labate isn’t worried about this problem saying “We finna yam on some yams.” The team is worried about Labate not showing up because he will most likely be in the weightroom all day. The Chargers will have a successful season with a chance to be the top team.
Arguably the most despised team through- out CYO, Gesu is still the powerhouse they always are, coming off of 2 straight City Championships. Lead by MVP candidate Lucas Tai, this team looks like they are set to win their 3rd straight champion- ship. With Lucas’s dribble moves, he has the ability to create shots for himself and other players on the team such as Claudio Calzado and Dennis Kless, who can hit 3’s at a consistent basis. They have one of the more dominant big men in all of CYO in John Carey, who scores at will in the paint.
Dennis is not afraid of other teams that could be in their way this season saying, “Bernie’s is worthless, we are not scared of either Ignatius team, and I guarantee a 3 peat of the City Championship.” Pay close attention to Gesu and hope that they are not on your schedule.
2Saint Ignatius (Hartman)
Bruise or be bruised. That’s the number two team on this list’s motto because of their perfect mix of beef and speed. This team is one of the most physical teams that you could play, with Seamus Cooney, Grant Abbott, and Mike Mangan’s strength down low in the post. The duo of Jett “The 6 God” Elad and Nigel Drummond is going to be a nightmare for opposing teams as they will have a tough time trying to stop both on fast breaks. Jack “Crazy Egg Roll” Allington will be the point guard and he hopes to take opposing teams ankles. Small Forward Conor “Sosa” Hartman will look to continue his success of clipping nearly every corner 3 pointer.
The only thing slowing this team down is their ability to control their emotions on the court, as technical fouls could be an issue each game. Seamus Cooney was quoted saying “My goal this year is to have a technical foul in every game.” If they can keep their emotions in check, this team could be hosting the trophy up at the end of the year.
1Saint Ignatius (McMahan)
The top team on the list is the Saint Ignatius team led by Aidan Wells and Tommy Eichenberg. This team has the size in bigs such as Eichenberg, Zach McMahan, and Wells. They will be a tough team to try and score inside against as they have the ability to block ever y shot. This team has a shooter in Mike Sarko and Chris Velota will be handling the post in the office. Additionally, with the recent addition of Nathan Hubbard, this team’s front court will be unstoppable.
This team has it all, and if they play their type of basketball, they have the best chance to make it to the state championship. Defensively minded player Jahadge “Bo” Floyd told me “After the tough loss in the championship game, we are hungrier than last year, we will win it all.” Lots of confidence in this team, and they have the talent to back it up.
The MVP Race
- Patrick Russell
- Vinnie Riley
- Nathan Hubbard
- Lucas Tai