The Butler Did It: McClancy makes the right move

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There was a time when the McClancy basketball team was one of the elite teams in the most elite league in the country. In 1993 the Crusaders saw each of their teams — the freshman, junior varsity and varsity — compete for the city championship.

Two years later, Don Kent’s varsity Crusaders lost to Ron Artest and LaSalle in the quarterfinals.

LaSalle went on to win the CHSAA ‘AA’ title and promptly moved down to the ‘A’ division. Cardinal Hayes also moved down but McClancy stayed. They stayed and took their lumps when many thought they should have left the ‘AA’ a few years ago.

The Crusaders were 1-12 this season in the East division after going 2-11 a year ago, and a proud Kent finally decided he’d had enough.

McClancy will be in the ‘A’ division next year, but unlike LaSalle’s controversial move, it doesn’t appear anyone disagrees this time.

Although at one time Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary, who is also the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese basketball chairman, didn’t think that could happen.

“If you would have told me in 1993 that McClancy would be leaving, I wouldn’t believe it,” he said. “They were as good as anyone then.”

“We evaluated everything and we felt it was the right move,” said Kent, one of the truly nice guys in the CHSAA. “We want to compete on a level playing field. It will be healthy for the school, healthy for the kids.”

Nine teams — St. Francis Prep, Molloy, Christ the King, Holy Cross, Bishop Loughlin, Xaverian, All Hallows, Rice and St. Raymond’s — remain in the ‘AA,’ while the ‘A’ league has swelled to 13 teams.

“I think the league will be fine; both leagues will be fine,” Gilvary said. “Both are very competitive leagues and both provide their players and schools with great competition.”

That McClancy has a chance to level the playing field and give its players and opposing players more competitive games made me think of the PSAL and how lopsided that league is.

To me it only makes sense to follow the CHSAA’s lead and adapt an ‘AA’ division, a sort of citywide superleague. The ‘AA’ would have 12 to 15 teams such as perennial powerhouses Lincoln, Grady, Boys & Girls and Cardozo.

Most of those teams play each other now, anyway, so why not make it count for something while at the same time give the other teams in the city a chance to compete on a day-by-day basis?

Nothing against Townsend Harris — hey, we here at the TimesLedger named its coach Howie Furman our PSAL Coach of the Year — but it’s not going to beat Cardozo.

Neither is almost anyone else in the Judges’ division with the exception of Bayside and possibly Jamaica.

I can probably count on one hand the number of Cardozo league games I covered in the last three years. And the four times or so that I did cover a league game of theirs, it was against Bayside.

If it’s not fun for me to be at a 35- or 40-point blowout, how do you think John Bowne, Francis Lewis or Thomas Edison feels?

I honestly can’t think of one reason not to break up the PSAL into three divisions — ‘AA,’ ‘A’ and ‘B.’

For the elite teams, every game would be a war, while for the middle-of-the-road teams — which are the majority of the teams in the PSAL’s top division — a city championship is no longer just a dream.

Adding a third division would also allow a third PSAL team to play in Glens Falls for the state Federation championship, which is also a positive.

Skeptics will say, well, what about the travel? How is Boys & Girls expected to get to Cardozo for a 4 p.m. start? The answer is simple. Why does it have to be 4 p.m.? Make it a 5:30 p.m. start, maybe even 6 p.m.

These teams find a way to make those trips on the weekend in non-league games, anyway, so they can find a way on a Tuesday night too.

McClancy will once again have the opportunity to compete for a city championship, ironically the same championship won by LaSalle last year.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could say the same about Flushing, which captured the league’s first title in 1903, or John Adams or August Martin?

Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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