Ignatius Basketball Association league offers young athletes lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship
At the Ignatius Basketball Association (IBA) Championship Night on March 15, 2014 at St. Ignatius of Antioch School at West Boulevard and Lorain Avenue eight teams faced off in championship games in the IBA’s four leagues that serve students from the 3rd to the 8th grades. Former IBA Athletic Director Rich Wild says the league, which is open to students from throughout the Greater Cleveland area, had over 260 grade school students from 30-35 parochial, private and public schools participating this year. Wild says the IBA provides a safe environment environment where students can learn teamwork and sportsmanship.
The Knights, coached by Jack Smith and Mark Ruddy won the Antioch League Championship Game by a score of 23-5 over the Tigers coached by Phil Swinderman. Teams in the Antioch League are made up of third grade boys and third and fourth grade girls. Six teams competed in the Antioch League for the right to go to the championship game.
In the Vatican League, which serves fourth and fifth grade boys, the Gregorian Panthers, coached by Mike Hoag and Jim Gerrick, won a close contest over the North American College Bulldogs coached by Ryan Dackiewicz. The final score was 22-19. Six teams competed in the Vatican League for the right to go to the championship game.
The Holy Cross Lady Crusaders, coached by Michelle Dreamer, Steve Hanigosky and Phil Swinderman, won the Girls Varsity League Championship Game over the Villanova Lady Wildcats, coached by Brian Kilbane, Jen Murphy, Kim Murphy and Maggey Urban. The final score was 37 to 29. Four teams with students from fifth to the eighth grade competed in the Girls Varsity League for the right to go to the championship game.
Holy Cross, coached by Mike Sweeney, won the Boys Varsity Championship game over Marquette, coached by Devon Wood, Mike Murphy and Joe Wadowick. The final score was 47-42. Eight teams made up of sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys competed for the right to play in the Boys Varsity Championship Game.
Members of the winning and runner up teams all received trophies from the IBA. In addition the IBA honored All-Stars, and most valuable players in the Vatican and Boys and Girls Varsity Leagues. There was a three way tie for Most Valuable Player in the Vatican City League, the three players named were: Malcolm Ruffin of the Eagles, Jamie Peterson of the Bulldogs and Connor Goodall of the Panthers. Jalecia Benz of Villanova was named Most Valuable Player in the Girls Varsity League and Aymin Bahhur of Holy Cross was named the Most Valuable Player in the Boys Varsity League.
The IBA also honored players for their academic achievement. Over eighty students were listed in the Championship Program Book for achieving Academic First or Second Honors at their respective schools. In congratulating the players for their academic achievement, IBA Athletic Director Patrick McDaniel said, “You have shown that the most important aspect of being a student/athlete is being a student. Keep up the hard work in the classroom and you will go far!”
In addition to honoring the players, the IBA presented awards to several coaches. Coach Alan “Big Al” DeWerth and Coach Stephen E. Hanigosky were both honored with lifetime achievement. Each of the two men, long time parishioners at St. Ignatius Parish, have volunteered as coaches and mentors to the youth of the Saint Ignatius Community for over 50 years.
DeWorth, an Almira Avenue resident, began volunteering as a coach at St. Ignatius parish in the 1960s. He was involved in all the school sports – football, track, basketball, baseball and even volleyball as a player on the Holy Name Society’s men’s team. DeWorth’s three children attended St. Ignatius Elementary School and participated in its sports programs.
Hanigosky, a 1963 graduate of St. Ignatius Elementary School, became involved in the parish sports programs while attending High School at West Tech. Hanigosky, while taking some time out to earn graduate and post graduate degrees on his route to becoming a teacher in the Cleveland schools, continued to be active as a coach and mentor in the league. Hanigosky’s three children all played in the parish sports programs.
Two men were also inducted into the St. Ignatius of Antioch Sports Hall of Fame. Peter “Bob” Lungo was honored posthumously for his service as a coach in the parish’s intermural leagues in the 1960s and 1970s. Lungo’s Niagra teams were powerhouses in the intramural leagues. Raymond Szczepaniak, class of 77, was honored for both his prowess as a player in the IBA league and as a coach. Szczepaniak, who as a “walk-on” at Kent State University earned a basketball scholarship and became a starter on the KSU team.