CANOE Network SLAM!Sports

 
SLAM! Sports SLAM! Basketball
  Thu, December 11, 2003


NBA NEWS
RAPTORS
NCAA BASKETBALL
SCOREBOARD
COURTSIDE BLOG
COLUMNISTS
COMMENT






PLAYER BIOS
MOVEMENTS
INJURIES
STATS


FIND A PLAYER:
CONF. STANDINGS
EAST STANDINGS
WEST STANDINGS
WEEKLY SCHEDULE
DAILY LEADERS














Beal tourney rates a slam dunk

By MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

If you like your basketball with a lot of shake and bake, slam, bang, dunk it man, London is the place to be this weekend.

Some of the best young basketball players in the United States are coming.

That's no exaggeration.

They'll be playing in the Al Previte Prep Stars of North America basketball tournament organized by Beal basketball coach Tony Marcotullio.

The tournament will be held at Beal and Catholic Central. It was first held in London last year.

Prep school players are usually a year older than Canadian high school players. Coming to the event will be the defending American national prep school champions from Laurinburg, N.C. They are defending champions of the tournament and will have two teams.

Not that that will hurt them. Laurinburg runs a program with four boys' teams at various levels. Last year the school sent 12 players to NCAA Division I schools on basketball scholarships. Seven of this year's team have already signed letters of intent for scholarships to Division I schools.

How good are they?

"I don't think people have any idea how good this team is," said Marcotullio. "We were beaten in the semifinals last year by another team from the States by 40 points and they eased up. Laurinburg beat them by 55."

The team has one of the top five prep school players in six-foot-10 Jackie Butler.

But Laurinburg isn't the only attraction. All the rosters show plenty of size and a slew of Division I scholarship-bound players.

It's a 16-team event. Beal, with two of its best players injured and two with the flu, has dropped out to make room for Lutheran Christian from Philadelphia.

"It's a drag," said Marcotullio. "You work hard all year organizing and then your own team isn't in it.

"That's the way things go."

Local schools participating include CCH, St. Thomas Aquinas and Lucas. Other Canadian schools will be Vanier from Montreal, Emery and West Hill from Toronto and St. Thomas Aquinas from Oakville.

Playing with the Oakville school is 19-year-old Ivan Chiriaev, who is seven-foot-one and has the skills of a guard. He showed up at the school from St. Petersburg, Russia, last year.

Joining the two Laurinburg teams are New Creations from Indiana, Holy Redemption Christian from New York, Our Saviour from Long Island, California Stoneridge, Mount Olive from Georgia and South Maryland.

Pools are made up of four teams each with games beginning tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Beal and 5.30 p.m. at CCH and running through the weekend. The semifinals are at Beal at 9.30 and 10 a.m. Sunday with the championship game at 2 p.m.

"This tournament is all about the kids," said Marcotullio. "This is not an easy tournament to put together but we feel it's important to promote the sport."

In keeping with the "it's all about the kids" credo, Marcotullio has made attending the event affordable. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students for the full day. Paying at one venue allows you entry to the other.

Marcotullio says the tournament would never have happened if not for Southside Construction, the main sponsor, along with Comfort Inns, Domino's Pizza and the Harveys hamburger chain. This is a tournament that costs big bucks.

Al Previte was an American with a love of basketball. Marcotullio ran into him a couple of years ago at a tournament where Previte told him he didn't have a home for the tournament. Marcotullio offered to hold it, not expecting it to happen.

Several months later, Previte called and the event was on.

Previte died this year but the teams still wanted to come to London for the tournament.

The teams play basketball at the highest level for their age groups. Many travel to tournaments far and wide to compete with other top teams. Marcotullio expects as many as 15 National Basketball Association scouts to attend.

For those who have never seen basketball at this level, they will be amazed at the skill and size of the players. Kudos to Marcotullio for bringing the event to London.

"It's going to be a good show," he said.

That it will be.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


Results | Story