Beacon hosts high school basketball in the summertime

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Van Buren boys’ basketball coach Perry Dortch is sitting in the stands, barely. He twists from side to side, never settling into his unfamiliar role as spectator while his team runs up and down the court.

He often looked pained as some sloppy play by his backcourt resulted in a couple of turnovers late in the first half, allowing Holy Cross to hold a slim lead in an early round game at the Ninth Annual MS 158 Beacon Summer High School Basketball Tournament in Bayside.

“Being in the PSAL you’re not allowed to talk to your kids during the summer, but the Catholic school teams can, so I’m just watching,” said Dortch as his team, coached by one of his assistants, battled Holy Cross Monday evening.

Not that that mattered. Dortch could hardly contain himself from screaming instructions from the bleachers. Across the gym, also in the stands was Holy Cross head coach Paul Gilvary, who watched mostly in silence as his team was coached by Cross assistant coach Lloyd Desvigne.

Van Buren and Holy Cross are two of the regular teams to compete in the ever-growing tournament, which acts as a mini summer camp for teams throughout Queens and beyond. In this year’s installment, nine teams make up the tournament: Holy Cross, Van Buren, Christ the King, St. Francis Prep, Newtown High School, Xaverian, St. Dominic’s the Beacon All Stars, comprised mainly of Bayside High School players, and West Queens Club, with players mostly from Bryant.

While not as prestigious as many other summer tournaments, such as I.S. 8 or the Rucker, the Beacon offers high school programs the chance to compete against one another in live game situations. The result is invaluable, Gilvary said.

“You always want the kids to be playing and trying to get better,” Gilvary said. “And this gives them an opportunity all summer to continue to work on their games. We’re only using returning players, so these are the kids who were juniors last year on the varsity, some of them didn’t get to play that much and this is an opportunity for me to see them.

“And also all the kids on the freshman and JV teams, this is their first opportunity to really play against varsity competition,” Gilvary added. “So you really get a feel of what they can do and can’t do.”

The coach of the Knights, who guided his team to the Catholic league semifinals two seasons ago, called the play at the Beacon “very competitive.”

“We’ve been in every one,” he added. “It’s a great program. It gets better every year. More and more teams want to get in it. it’s almost like we have a waiting list of teams who want to play. To me, there really aren’t many negatives. As far as we’re concerned this program is a home run.”

High school basketball insider Tom Konchalski, of HSBI Report, was present at Monday’s three-game schedule, which also featured Newtown vs. West Queens and Christ the King taking on St. Dominic’s. For Konchalski, the Beacon tournament offers a preview of what these teams will look like come November.

“I’m here just because I’m a basketball junkie,” Konchalski said. “I always come once or twice a year. It’s a nice league. A number of the Catholic school teams come in, like Xaverian, Christ the King, Holy Cross, St. Francis Prep and a smattering of the public schools. And it’s played indoors. It’s an enjoyable league.”

The program was the brainchild of Al Stark, a project coordinator with Beacon, and Dave Johnson, who oversees the tournament directly. Johnson, a Far Rockaway native, said the program grew out of the Beacon’s intramural program into scrimmages and then a full-fledged tournament.

“It’s a platform for the coaches to keep their kids in shape, pretty much,” Johnson said.

Some of the best high school talent from Queens has played at the tournament over the years, including Milwaukee Bucks point guard Rafer Alston when he was still at Cardozo. Other players include Duane and Brian Woodward, Willie Dersch, Ryan Williams, Damien Herard, Daryl Hill and Sharif Fordham, to name a few.

The program, which began on June 24, will run through July and culminate with the championship game on Aug. 2. Admission is free and three games take place every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the month, starting at 5:30 p.m. and running through 9:30 p.m.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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