Often in sports, teams refer to themselves as “family.” That will be tested this week as several local athletes will be competing in tournaments and non-league games during the holiday break, spending what would normally be family time with teammates.
While many of us nestle comfortably with relatives, enjoying food and festivities, the high school sports season continues. In fact, some teams practiced on Christmas Eve. “It truly is a sacrifice being away from family for a while during the holidays,” Roy C. Ketcham High School wrestling coach Josh Shoemaker said.
Even on Christmas the athletes, wrestlers in particular, will have to avoid fattening foods and pastries to maintain weight for upcoming competition.
“But for many of us,” Shoemaker said, “our sports are more than games and matches. It’s a way of life.”
Duane Davis Memorial Basketball Tournament
The Spackenkill High School boys basketball team had backed away from the Dutchess County Coaches Association Holiday Tournament for a couple years. It seemed a tad unreasonable, coach Tom Bell figured, to have a smaller Class B team spending a chunk of its holiday break taking on Class AA and A teams. So the Spartans hadn’t participated in the event — since renamed the Duane Davis Memorial Tournament — since 2013.
But Spackenkill reached the Section 9 Class B final last season, and with that, confidence surged and the swagger is back. As is this team in the tournament, a showcase in its 29th year that features several of the area’s top teams.
“Then we heard we got matched up with Our Lady of Lourdes in the first round,” Bell said, chuckling. “But it was like, ‘OK, here we go.’ We wanted to beef up the non-league schedule and test ourselves, so we’ve got that.”
The four-day tournament tips off on Tuesday at Ketcham. Spackenkill faces Lourdes at 6 p.m. and Franklin D. Roosevelt takes on Ketcham at 7:45 p.m.
On Wednesday, at 6 p.m. Beacon meets John Jay and, at 7:45 p.m., Arlington faces Marlboro.
The tournament then shifts to Lourdes. Losers bracket games will be played at 2:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., followed by the semifinals at 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. The events wraps up on Friday with three consolation games — at 2 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. — preceding the final at 7:45 p.m.
In the years between, the Spartans traveled 150 miles to Little Falls for tournaments, matching themselves against similar-sized schools.
Spackenkill now features point guard Camron Abalos, a football star who also has excelled on the court. The senior is approaching 1,000 career points. Center Kyiev Bennermon and forward Hayden Peek also are key players. Lourdes is led by high-flying guard Kevin Townes and 6-foot-5 center James Anozie, the reigning Journal Player of the Year.
The tournament is named in honor of Duane Davis, a revered former Franklin D. Roosevelt boys basketball coach. Marlboro won the tournament last season, beating Lourdes, 78-77, in overtime of the final. The Iron Dukes went on to reach the Class B state finals.
“Any time you get to play over the break it’s a blessing,” Beacon coach Scott Timpano said. “It’s a great tournament that showcases local talent and it’s usually well-attended. The communities support it.”
The Bulldogs are led by point guard Alex Benson along with forwards Zamere McKenzie and Jemond Galloway.
“It’s a great atmosphere during the holiday season,” Bell said. “The tournament brings out the casual fans. There’ll be people who might not having a rooting interest in a particular team, but they like the sport and want to see a lot of good players.”
Dutchess County Coaches Association Girls Basketball Tournament
Several other area squads will be competing, including a number of girls teams in the DCCA tournament hosted by Highland and Spackenkill High Schools, beginning on Tuesday.
The tournament, which starts on Tuesday at Highland then moves to Spackenkill on Thursday, includes Arlington, Pine Plains, Highland, John Jay, Millbrook, Beacon and Roosevelt.
“We’re a competitive team and we seek out good competition,” said Pine Plains coach Rich Starzyk, whose team is set to face Highland and John Jay. “Tough competition is always a benefit to teams. Win or lose, you’ll learn a lot.”
The Bombers have reached the state Class C final four the last two seasons and, Starzyk said, “to be successful, you have to make sacrifices and put in the time. Even on the holidays.”
James I. O’Neill Tournament
The Marlboro High School girls basketball team, as it did last season en route to the state semifinals, will compete in the two-day tournament at James I. O’Neill High School. The Iron Dukes face O’Neill at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Minisink Valley takes on Middletown at 3 p.m., and the victors square off in the final on Wednesday.
Rhinebeck faces Red Hook at Bard
The Rhinebeck and Red Hook boys basketball teams, longtime rivals, will meet in a non-tournament game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Bard College.
Neither of the schools’ gymnasiums can fit the expected crowd of more than 1,000, Hawks coach David Aierstok said, “so Bard makes for a great neutral venue.”
Mid-Hudson Wrestling Tournament
This longstanding Arlington tournament showcases several area teams, but it also attracts out of town teams from near and far. Mattituck High School, from near the eastern tip of Long Island, will make the three-hour trek from Suffolk County to Arlington High School.
The tournament, in its 51st year “is good because the kids get to face some of the best competition in the state and see how they measure up,” John Jay coach Jamie Weaver said.
The event begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday and continues into Wednesday. It now features 21 teams including John Jay, Beacon, Roy C. Ketcham, Highland and, of course Arlington.
Ketcham’s Jesse Pascale took second in the 182-pound class last year.
“It’s a very challenging tournament,” Shoemaker said. “Any mistake by even one of the top wrestlers and they could be done. But it’s a good way to gauge ourselves and see where we stack up, and what we need to improve the rest of the season.”
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4