GLENS FALLS — Familiarity will be a theme during this year’s Federation Tournament of Champions, as 10 boys and girls basketball teams return from last year in the three-day tournament starting Friday at Cool Insuring Arena.
The Federation Tournament features boys and girls champions from the state’s four athletic governing bodies: NYSPHSAA (public schools), CHSAA (Catholic schools), AISAA (independent schools) and PSAL (New York City public schools). Teams compete only in the three largest classes, AA, A and B, which is why Lake George’s season ended with a public high school title last weekend.
The Federation Tournament of Champions brings the best basketball teams in New York to Glens Falls.
This is the second year of a three-year contract, meaning it’s the year Glens Falls organizers have to start working on a bid to keep this tournament, and possibly regain the state tournament.
Most of the returning teams are on the girls’ side. In Class AA, defending champion South Shore joins Long Island Lutheran and Baldwin as returners. Likewise, three girls teams return in Class A: Jamesville-DeWitt, James Madison and two-time defending champion Staten Island Academy. The other returning girls team is Aquinas, of the Bronx, in Class B.
On the boys’ side, each class has one returning team from 2017: Long Island Lutheran in Class AA, Albany Academy in Class A and Fannie Lou Hamer in Class B. Albany Academy is the two-time defending Class A champion, while Long Island Lutheran holds a record seven Federation titles.
Albany Academy is one of just two area teams here this weekend. Mekeel Christian, which won the public schools’ Class B title, is the other.
The tournament also marks the return of schools that weren’t here last year, but have a history in Glens Falls, mainly public schools champion Amityville in Class A boys (which went to four consecutive Federation Tournaments between 2000 and 2003, and won in 2001 and 2003) and Catholic schools champion Christ The King in Class AA girls. CTK has won a record 15 Federation championships.
The Federation Tournament spent many years in Glens Falls but left after 2010 for Albany. It returned for a three-year run starting last year. Over the years such notable pro stars as Kenny Anderson, Christian Laettner, Ben Gordon, Sebastian Telfair, Tina Charles, Sue Bird and Epiphanny Prince played at the then-Glens Falls Civic Center.
Of local interest this year, officials are planning to present Glens Falls junior Joseph Girard III with his Gatorade New York Boys Basketball Player of the Year award after the first Class AA boys semifinal Friday at approximately 7:30 p.m.
There are seven games both Friday and Saturday, starting at 9 a.m., then three games on Sunday. Early risers will be rewarded Friday, as the first game features a rematch of last year’s Class A girls final between Jamesville-DeWitt and Staten Island Academy.
“This is an opportunity to finish the season on top and be the final team standing, hopefully,” Archbishop Stepinac boys coach Pat Massaroni said. “To go up to this tournament of champions is something that every kid playing in New York State looks forward to because not many states have this, where they bring everyone together.”