When the Empire State Games began to fade away, the popular basketball tournaments during the Olympic-style competition were sure to disappear with it.
The Basketball Coaches Association of New York came up with replacement tournaments for high school boys and girls players five years ago.
Kendall varsity coach Jeff Parizek says the BCANY Summer Hoops Festival remains a winning move among girls basketball players around New York State.
“You can’t compare it to the AAU nationals (in competition level), you are talking about players around the country,” Parizek said. “For the state? It’s the mecca, it’s the Empire State Games.
“Maybe other sports (don’t have an Empire State Games equivalent), but for basketball, it’s special.”
Some of Parizek’s excitement comes from a runner-up finish for the Rochester team at the 2015 festival outside of Binghamton in Johnson City, Broome County. Silver-medalist Rochester finished 4-1 with Parizek as coach, after a 68-63 loss to Adirondack in the final Aug. 2. The Rochester boys team won a gold medal.
“Breanna Stewart could be one of the best women’s college basketball players in the country and she has played in this,” Parizek said. “Saniya Chong (also at University of Connecticut).
“(Gates Chili graduate) Cierra Dillard, who was a MVP when we won it two years ago. You can’t really match that atmosphere during a normal high school season.”
The Rochester team included 13 players: Bri’Asia Mason (Bishop Kearney), Rosa Graham (Bishop Kearney), Sydney Jones (Midlakes), Tiara Filbert (Batavia), Caroline White (Fairport), Nina Starkweather (Aquinas), Jayla Myles (Mercy), Riley Record (Palmrya-Macedon), Carina Pringle (Greece Athena), Sara Ciotti (Greece Athena), Taylor Corts (Wayne), Moriah Kunes (Naples) and Kelly Weeks (Webster Thomas).
Former Aquinas coach Jack Rosati, Bishop Kearney coach Kevan Sheppard, Tim Lincoln (Section V girls basketball coordinator), and Ryan O’Neill (School of the Arts) were on the coaching staff.
Starkweather, Myles, Record, Pringle and White also were teammates on the Western Lady Lakers 17-under team that won a United States Junior Nationals Championship this summer in Washington, D.C.
There were nine teams in the BCANY Summer Hoops Festival girls tournament, none of which has repeated as champion. Miles, Filbert and Corts were named to the All-Festival team by coaches.