St. Thomas More CYO Basketball Teams Sweep Diocesan Championship Tournament

It was a clean sweep for CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) basketball teams of St. Thomas More Parish, Allentown at the Diocesan Championship Tournament Feb. 17-18 at Berks Catholic High School, Reading.

Both the girls’ and boys’ teams (7-8 grade students) from St. Thomas More School, Allentown won their playoff games and are now headed to the state tournament next month.

The Boys’ Championship game started at 1 p.m. with St. Thomas More and St. Catharine of Siena School, Reading. The game went into overtime with a final score of 52-49.

After the win, Allison Hosack, mother of St. Thomas More forward, Lucas Hosak, said of her son’s CYO participation, “He’s grown up in the program. It’s helped him athletically, spiritually, and it’s also helped him build character.”

The Girls’ Championship game followed, with St. Thomas More coming from behind to beat St. Ignatius Loyola Regional School, Sinking Spring 24-22.

Amanda Salovay is principal of St. Thomas More School and one of the team’s assistant coaches. She said participation in CYO teaches students “teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership, all wrapped into one.”

CYO was a part of Salovay’s childhood. She played both basketball and volleyball as a grade school student. Of the time she spends as both principal and a CYO coach, she said, “The boys and girls deserve every inch of my time.”

She also credits St. Thomas More’s pastor, Father John Pendzick, who gives the teams his blessing before each game, with the success of the school’s CYO program.

“He really leads us. He’s been with us this whole journey,” she said. “He makes them feel very special as their pastor cheering them on during games.”

“It’s always good to see the priest sitting on the bench with the team,” said Daniel Jones, CYO Coordinator, of Father Pendzick.

Father Pendzick credits the “great feeder programs” for the success of his parish’s CYO program and said, “the coaches really give a lot of their time.”

The high school game was decided in the last 25 seconds, and St. Thomas More beat St. Ignatius 47-45.

“All of them were good games, highly competitive,” said Jones. “It’s a good level of basketball, good teams and great participation.”

Founded in 1930 by a bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago, CYO was started as an athletic program for elementary and high school youth. Its aim was to offer young males, especially from the working class, a community and constructive activity to dissuade them from taking part in criminal activities.

Today, parish-based CYO programs can be found throughout the United States, and internationally in countries such as Africa, Australia, and the Philippines. In the Diocese of Allentown, CYO programs are offered throughout the academic year for both athletics and academics.

Athletic programs include basketball and cheerleading in the winter; baseball, track and field, and softball in spring; and cross country, volleyball, golf, and soccer in fall.

Academic programs include Academic Bowl (teams competing to answer questions from all areas of knowledge), Declamation (students write and deliver compelling speeches), and Spelling Bees.

Though the diocesan championship is the end of the high school season, the boys’ and girls’ teams continue on to state tournaments next month. The St. Thomas More girls’ team will play again at Berks Catholic March 8-10, and the boys’ team will travel to Erie to play March 15-17.

Salovay plans a school-wide celebration to send off both teams to the state championship games. “We’ll have a big pep rally and send them on their way,” she said.


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