WHEELING-The Steubenville Catholic Central boys and Wheeling Central Catholic girls will take the top records in to the 16th annual Undo's/Main Street Bank Holiday Basketball Tournament opening Friday night at Wheeling Jesuit University's Alma Grace McDonough Center.
The two-day tournament features four games each day with the third-place and championship games in both divisions scheduled for Saturday evening.
Coach Shawn Tucker's undefeated Crusaders are off to a blazing 6-0 start as they bid to win the title in the boys' division.
Preparing for the Undo’s Basketball Tournament are members of the Wheeling Central Catholic High School girls’ team from left: Colleen McCormick, Emily Bucon, Beth Stayduhar and Coach Penn Kurtz.
Other teams in boys' field are Wheeling Central Catholic (1-4), Bishop Donahue (4-1) and first-time entrant Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas (3-4). McNicholas, an Ohio Division II school that competes in the Greater Cincinnati Catholic League, has played such formidable rivals as Cincinnati St. Xavier, Roger Bacon, Purcell, Seven Hills and Turpin. One of the assistants on Coach Tim Monahan's staff is Jack Kaniecki, a son of former Wheeling Central athlete, coach and long-time teacher Stan Kaniecki.
A new champion is assured in the boys' division as Huntington St. Joseph did not return to defend its title.
Joining nine-time defending champion Wheeling Central (7-1) in the girls' bracket are Conotton Valley (6-2), Madonna (2-5) and Bishop Donahue (1-6).
Friday's action begins at 4 p.m.with Conotton Valley and Madonna meeting in the first girls' semifinal. The initial boys' semifinal contest has Steubenville Catholic and Archbishop McNicholas vying at 5:30 p.m. Wheeling Central's girls and Bishop Donahue vie at 7, followed by the boys' game between the Maroon Knights and Bishops at 8:30.
Saturday's schedule includes: 4 p.m.: Girls' Consolation Game; 5:30 p.m.: Boys' Consolation Game;7 p.m.: Girls Championship Game; 8:30 p.m.: Boys' Championship Game.
Wheeling Central's girls' only loss to date came at the hands of perennial power Huntington St. Joseph, the team that also defeated the Maroon Knights in the West Virginia Class A state final last March in Charleston.
''We are playing really well right now and we have to continue to play well," said Penn Kurtz, Wheeling Central's coach who has led his girls to the Undo's tournament title every year since 2003.
The key to the Maroon Knights' success has been the standout play of returning three-year standouts Emily Bucon, a West Liberty University recruit, and Colleen McCormick.
''Colleen and Emily make us very difficult to defend," Kurtz said.
Central has won six straight games since the narrow loss to St. Joseph in the Williamstown Tip-Off Tournament.
''We are looking forward to this weekend's tournament," said Kurt after sending his team through its first post-Christmas practice session on Wednesday. ''It has become one of the highlights of our season."
The inaugural Undo's Catholic Holiday Tournament was started in 1997 by Nick Sparachane at the request of the now deceased Rev. Bernard Schmitt, Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling.
''All the money raised goes back to the schools," Kurtz pointed out. ''Main Street Bank came on board a couple years ago as one of our major sponsors along with Wheeling Jesuit University which has hosted this tournament since its inception.''
Admission each day is $5 for adults and students. The ticket is good for all four of the games played that day. An alltournament team will be selected in both the boys' and girls' division