Batavia Lions Club Tournament: it doesn't get any better
Back in 1982, the Batavia Lions Club and Pete Arras decided putting together a basketball tournament would be a good idea to give some good basketball teams a chance to play on the court at Genesee Community College and make it possible for Batavia and Notre Dame to play each other.
Little could anybody have known, here we are in 2008 and the tournament is stronger than ever. It is also probably regarded as one of, if not, the best boys basketball holiday tournament in Section 5. There are typically around 2,000 people that attend the tournament at GCC every year.
That original tournament featured Batavia, Notre Dame, a very good Byron-Bergen squad and Albion. (The photo above is the original photo of the coaches).
With the Fighting Irish and Bees hooking up late in the previous season, so that was a great way to start the tourney. The two squads played in February with B-B winning 51-48.
The opening round rematch was a stunner, with Byron-Bergen knocking off Notre Dame 54-43. Albion knocked off Batavia 62-45
The Bees went on to claim the first Batavia Lions Club championship with 35-30 win over Albion, with Bill Ferris claiming the MVP trophy.
Ferris was also the MVP in the second year as the Bees routed ND 47-30 and then Batavia 80-43.
Notre Dame was the favorite when they matched up with B-B in the finals in the tournament's third year, but it was again the Bees claiming the title with a 52-48 victory. Notre Dame's Jim Pursel was actually the MVP of that tournament, mostly because of his 29 point effort in the opening round win over Albion.
History was made in 1985 when Batavia and Notre Dame finally had a chance to play each other in the finals. With ND playing in the Genesee Region League and Batavia in the Monroe County League, these teams never get a shot to go against each other.
Tournament MVP Ron Nenni dropped in 20 points and the Fighting Irish toppled Batavia 65-52.
The tournament has seen many changes in participants over the years, with teams like Oakfield-Alabama, Attica, John Marshall, Nichols, Bishop Timon, Perry, Williamsville North, Akron, Pembroke, Le Roy, Caledonia-Mumford, Iroquois and Alexander all having experienced playing in the classic tournament.
Despite not winning until 1989, Batavia leads the tournament with wins with 13. The Blue Devils have won the last four titles, and seven of eight. Timon knocked Batavia off in overtime in the opening round of the 2003 tournament and then toppled Notre Dame 48-44 in the finals.
Byron-Bergen - which hasn't played in the tournament since 1994 is tied with Notre Dame for second in tournament titles with five.
Perry has won two championships and Timon has the other.
There have been some special performances over the years. The most recent was by Batavia's Michael Chmielowiec - a senior at the University of Rochester - who set the single game scoring record with 40 points against Bishop Timon in 2004. He also owns the tournament scoring mark with 64 points.
There have been four other 30-plus point performances: Tom McCulley of Notre Dame dropped in 38 in 1991, Batavia's Phil Santiago scored 35 points in 2002, PJ Leavy of Batavia had 33 in 1995 and Notre Dame's Tim Wascott had 32 in 2002.
Leavy had 57 points in that 95 tournament, Albion's Ernie McDonald had 49 total points in 1983 and Batavia's Rick Lundy had 48 in 1997.
This year's tournament features the same four teams that have been in the last three tournaments. Batavia opens up against Albion at 7 p.m. Monday night, with Notre Dame and Perry following at 8:45 p.m.
The consolation game is at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the finals at 8:45 p.m.
Admission is only $2, includes a program with rosters and money raised helps the Lions Club to provide scholarships to local students.
If you are interested in checking out basically the entire history of the tournament, check out this link on Flickr for over 80 photos and stories from tournaments in the past.
Here is a link to the entire history of the tournament, with the scores for every opening round, consolation and championship game as well as MVP of that year's tournament.
Also, feel free to share past memories if you've played or watched memorable tournaments.
Also, here is the video from this year's team at the Lions Club dinner introducing the teams.
(most clips in the post and flickr gallery are used with permission from The Daily News)