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The Catholic High School Athletic Association is on its way to consolidating its marquee sport, boys basketball, into one powerhouse A division featuring the 10 best teams in the five boroughs.
The coaches of the seven Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan teams, including Holy Cross, St. Francis Prep, Monsignor McClancy, Archbishop Molloy, Christ the King, Bishop Loughlin and Xaverian, voted overwhelmingly last week to merge with the three teams from the Archdiocese, St. Raymonds, All Hallows and Rice, to form a single two-division league, said Brooklyn/Queens Commissioner Paul Gilvary.
Gilvary, who also coaches the Holy Cross varsity team, said that the move will be finalized if the athletic directors and principals also vote in favor of the new plan in the coming weeks.
I think overall its a good thing for the league, Gilvary said. I hope it gets approved.
According to Gilvary, the impetus for a new league came about after LaSalle, the 1997 A league champions, dropped down to the B league, leaving just three teams in Bronx/Manhattan.
I think everyone recognized you cant have a three-team league, Gilvary said. Something had to be done. [The NY schools] priority was to be part of a league. They just didnt want to play an entire season worth of meaningless games. We wanted to keep all the A school representatives in the A intersections and we wanted to keep our Diocesan tournament alive.
We tossed a round a lot of different proposals, he added. We felt this was the best of all worlds.
This new alignment would feature two five-team divisions of the A league, separated primarily geographically. Each team would play its division foes twice, with a single crossover game against the five teams in the other division, making a highly competitive 13-game schedule for all teams involved.
This, however, does eliminate a few premier match-ups from the annual schedule.
With Molloy, Cross, Prep, St. Rays and McClancy all in one division and Christ the King, Xaverian, Bishop Loughlin, All Hallows and Rice in the other, all teams will play one another, but longstanding rivalries will be put to the test.
Where Molloy and Christ the King have played one another twice during the regular season for years, there would only be one crossover match-up now, and the same goes for St. Raymonds and Rice.
Still, there would be at least one of these sell-out games per year and a host of brand new match-ups never before seen in regular season play, having previously been reserved for the post-season or not at all.
If the plan is approved, Molloy will square off twice next year against St. Raymonds, the defending New York State Class A Federation champions and the team that bested the Stanners in double overtime.
Also kept intact is the Holy Cross-St. Francis Prep rivalry, perhaps the most bitter in the city.
The annual Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan tournament will also remain a yearly fixture, with the seven teams that have historically vied for the title competing. The three Archdiocese schools will then compete with the Staten Island champ in a four-team tournament.
The result of both tournaments will be reflected in the seedings for the citywide intersectionals.
Keeping these tournaments, however, was more about tradition than anything else.
These Diocesan championships have been given out for years and years and years, Gilvary said. We wanted to maintain that.
As the two divisions stand now, it would appear that the western of the two, consisting of two Brooklyn and Manhattan schools and just one from Queens, is the stronger, but Gilvary points out that strength of teams and now divisions changes year to year.
It kind of fluctuates a little bit, he said, pointing out that three of the four semifinalists from this past season are playing in the eastern of the two divisions. Youre going to seem some tremendous regular-season match-ups you would not have in the past. Some new rivalries will build as a result of this.
The league is also planning on making these same changes to both the freshman and junior varsity leagues, which will only intensify budding rivalries.
The CHSAA should be commended for acting swiftly in correcting a new problem. Not often in high school athletics do potential headaches turn into improvements, which is what the CHSAA has done.
This only happened because of tremendous cooperation, Gilvary said. It was a lot of give and take. Because everyone cooperated we were able to come up with a pretty exciting idea. Maybe this will be the springboard for this to happen in other sports.
One can only hope. Making a more competitive, exciting league, while challenging for teams and players, only serves to make all involved better for it.
For years the CHSAA has been considered one of if not the best high school basketball leagues in the nation. With this realignment, it would be hard for anyone to argue.
Id think youd have to go a long way to find a better league than this, Gilvary said. If there was any doubt before.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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