Over 280 students from five of our Illawarra schools have competed against hundreds of other Catholic school students from across NSW and the ACT in the 35th annual NSW Catholic Primary Schools Basketball Challenge (CPSBC).
The tournament - this year hosted by St Christopher’s, Panania - is one of the largest sporting events for primary school students in NSW. The event saw 1,200 students from Years 3-4 (Juniors) and Years 5-6 (Seniors), competing in 152 teams from 33 schools representing nine dioceses - travelling from Taree in the north, Albury in the south and Griffith in the west.
The strong presence of the Diocese of Wollongong could not be missed, with St Paul’s, Albion Park; Stella Maris, Shellharbour; Nazareth, Shellharbour City; Ss Peter and Paul, Kiama; and St Brigid’s, Gwynneville taking 40 teams between them to play at venues across Bankstown, Menai, Sutherland and Riverwood.
Each team played three games of basketball on the Saturday, with their wins and losses, and points for and against, recorded. At the completion of the first day, teams were ranked against all other schools in their section of the competition based on their results, and placed into a new, graded draw for the next day.
On Sunday, the Challenge entered the knockout phase, where each game, teams faced losing and being eliminated from the competition. Our schools’ teams fought hard, and many made it through to their semi-final and even the grand-final - including some who successfully claimed the title for their division!
NSW CPSBC Executive Committee member and St Paul’s Albion Park principal, Colleen Easton, said schools from far and wide gather every year for this event because the children and parents always have such an enjoyable weekend.
“The community spirit is so evident. I draw strength from witnessing parent-school partnerships and the personal and social growth of our students in both the lead up to, and during, the weekend,” Mrs Easton said.
“All of our CEDoW schools must be congratulated on how they bring their school community together around this basketball weekend and create such strong sense of family, community and the Catholic school.
“I sincerely thank each of our five schools for organising teams for the CPS Basketball Challenge - for encouraging our students and supporting our coaches and managers who give so generously of their time and skills so that our children can participate. It’s a wonderful weekend of fun playing basketball.”
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Stella Maris, Shellharbour
A massive twelve teams from Stella Maris, Shellharbour took the courts at Panania - 86 students across three Senior Boys, three Senior Girls, three Junior Boys and three Junior Girls teams. Stella Maris had a very successful weekend, with a Senior Boys, a Junior Girls and two Junior Boys teams placing in either Division 1 or 2 of their competitions - a very impressive effort, given the high standard of competition and skill that had come from all across NSW.
• Senior Boys A were undefeated on Saturday and placed 8th overall. They went on to win all their Sunday games too, beating Nazareth 38-12 in the grand final to remain undefeated for the weekend and take out the Division 2 title. While the Senior Boys C team lost their quarter final on Sunday morning, the Senior Boys B team went on to make it to the grand-final, where they were just beaten by Dubbo 26-22.
• The Senior Girls A team ranked 18th out of 39 teams, placing them in Division 3. Unfortunately, they lost their quarter-final on Sunday. Senior Girls B and C both made it to their grand final in Division 3 and Division 5 respectively, and were both happy with the result of runners up in their divisions.
• The Junior Boys A team were undefeated on Saturday and ranked an incredible 3rd out of 38 teams! Placed in Division 1, they unfortunately lost to Mosman in their quarter-final - the team that went on to win the entire Junior Boys competition. The Junior Boys C placed a 11th and into Division 2 - another remarkable result. They lost their quarter final against tough competitors, but were very proud of placing so high overall. Meanwhile, the Junior Boys B team won their Division 4 quarter-final, but lost their semi-final.
• Junior Girls A were another force to be reckoned with, remaining undefeated on Saturday to be ranked 5th out of 23 teams - also placing them in Division 1 of their competition. The girls won the quarter final, but lost to Mosman in the semi-final. The Junior Girls B and C teams both won their quarter-finals in Division 4 and Division 2 respectively, but didn’t progress beyond their semi-finals.
Stella Maris teacher and organiser, Kim Downing, has been taking Shellharbour teams to the CPSBC for 10 years. She says each year, feedback from students and parents is so positive that the number of participants at the school just keeps growing.
“The children all represented our school superbly and several teams were congratulated for their sportsmanship by other schools, referees, coaches and parents. Apart from the results, all our families had a wonderful time together socially. I love the sense of community we gain from this weekend, with families staying together, enjoying meals and getting to know each other,” she said.
“Children do not need to know how to play basketball prior to joining a team. Over the years, we’ve had children take up the game from this weekend and go on to play representative basketball for Illawarra and beyond. Kyle Zunic, who currently has a scholarship at a college in America, began playing basketball at NSWCPS for Stella Maris when he was in Year 3.”
The Year 6 boys of Stella Maris’ Senior Boys A team agreed, saying the CPSBC was their favourite event of the school calendar. “We have been participating together since Year 3. It's an event that you wait for, for the whole year! It's not only fun playing basketball, but also hanging out with friends at the hotel and the courts,” they said.
Stella Maris thanks all the parents and grandparents who coached and managed the teams. Thanks also to Mrs Downing, Mrs Hosking, Mrs Wright, Mrs Nieborak and Mr Dutaillis for their work beforehand in helping organise the teams and for their support at the venues on the weekend; and to Mr Sykes, Mr Green and Mr O’Grady who also supported the teams at the event.
St Paul’s Albion Park
Eleven St Paul’s, Albion Park teams made up of 75 students in total - three Senior Boys, three Senior Girls, three Junior Boys and two Junior Girls teams - had a fantastic time competing across the weekend.
The Senior Girls A team placed 17th out of 39 teams, putting them in Division 3. The Junior Boys A team was ranked 16th out of 38 teams, while the Junior Girls A team ranked 15th - meaning both teams made it to Division 2 of their competition - a big feat! Meanwhile, Junior Boys B and Junior Girls B both placed in Division 3.
Many of the St Paul’s teams won their quarter finals on Sunday and went through to semi finals. A special congratulations to the Senior Boys A team, who progressed through to their grand final and won 18-16 against Young - making them champions of their division!
While winning games was one reason to celebrate, St Paul’s teacher and organiser, Julie Ferguson, said she believed the school’s greatest success was the amount of positive feedback given to her and other staff about the behaviour of the students.
“The students were continually praised for their sportsmanship and friendliness. Referees, parents and students from other teams commented on how great it was to play against St Paul’s teams and the friendliness of the parents and teachers coaching and as spectators. This is a wonderful tribute for all of us to be proud of.”
St Paul’s thanks all the family members who coached and managed teams, including Mr and Mrs Hofman, Mr Hilton, Sarah Hilton, Mrs Meehan, Bree Meehan, Mrs Sacco, Mrs McGlashan, Samantha McGlashan, Mrs Campion, Mr Schutz, Mr. Allen, Mrs Rosete, Mr Dunn, Mrs Moon, Mrs Redman, Mr Bancroft, Mr Tsolkas, Mrs Elliot and Caitlyn Bloomfield. Thanks also to Mrs Simone Miller and staff members, Mrs Ferguson, Mr Edwards, Mr McCann, Mr Farrugia and Ms McGeehan for coaching teams at training and on the weekend; the hardworking office staff for their organisational help; and teachers, Mrs Vezinius and Mrs Sykes for attending the weekend to help supervise.
“What an amazing community we have, all working together for the good of our children,” Mrs Ferguson said. “Thank you to all the families and staff that attended and gave their support to our early morning training sessions and over the weekend.”
Ss Peter and Paul, Kiama
Ss Peter and Paul, Kiama took 52 students in seven teams to the CPSBC - two Senior Boys teams, two Senior Girls, two Junior Boys and one Junior Girls team.
• The Senior Boys teams both placed in Division 5, and of all the 52 teams in their competition, they ended up versing each other in a nail-biting quarter final. The score was even at 12-12 at the end of the 30-minute game, meaning the boys played into overtime until the next point was scored. The Kiama A team won the point to advance into the semi finals, where they tried their best but didn’t make it to the grand final.
• The Senior Girls teams played very well against some tough competition. They scored 20th and 27th out of 39 teams in their competition - a big effort!
• Both Junior Boys teams won their quarter-finals - one in Division 3 and one in Division 4 - but were defeated in the semi finals.
• The Junior Girls were ranked a commendable 16th overall and placed in the very competitive Division 2. Unfortunately, they came up against a strong team early on and the girls were knocked out before making it to the semi-finals.
Ss Peter and Paul organiser, teacher, Christine Dixon, said every student played their best and showed good sportsmanship.
“I was very proud of everyone’s behaviour on and off the courts. I enjoyed watching the team spirit and camaraderie from all players and the enjoyment on both the children’s and adults’ faces. It was great to see the teams staying around the venues to cheer on their schoolmates,” she said.
“Thank you to the seven coaches and seven managers for volunteering their time to preparing the players and assisting over the weekend. It was an absolute joy to see all the parents working together to ensure a fun and successful weekend for the children.”
Nazareth, Shellharbour City
Nazareth was represented by 51 students in seven teams - three Senior Boys teams, one Senior Girls, two Junior Boys and one Junior Girls team.
• A special mention to the Senior Boys A team, who finished 10th out of 52 teams. They kept their winning momentum into Sunday and all the way through to the grand final, where they faced Stella Maris. They came off second best, but were still very happy with the result of runners up in Division 2.
• A big congratulations to the Junior Boys A team, who also placed in Division 2 of their competition, ranked 10th out of 38 teams. The boys made it through to their grand final, where they were defeated 14-6 by Goulburn in a tough game, but were proud to call themselves runners up of such a high division. The Junior Boys B team also made it all the way through to their grand final, but were pipped at the post by Gowrie, defeated 11-9.
• The Senior Girls and Junior Girls teams did not make it to the finals of their division, but had a lot of fun and improved with each game. Those in Years 3, 4 and 5 are looking forward to returning bigger and better for Nazareth next year.
Principal, Peter Dempsey, said all the school’s teams performed well over the weekend. “The Nazareth students were magnificent and were outstanding representatives of their school and their families,” he said.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the large number of parents, grandparents and family friends who supported the Nazareth teams, the courtside cheering and encouragement was brilliant. Many families are already planning for next year’s tournament!”
Nazareth especially thanks Heath Eggleton, Melissa Brotherson-Clark, Terry Tompkin and Amy Moran for the giving of their time to coach and manage teams. Thanks also to the staff members who volunteered their weekend to support the teams, including Mrs Masterson and the Masterson family, Mrs Jankowski, Mrs Rowles, Ms D’Souza, Miss Camkin, Miss Biggs, Mrs Nunes.
St Brigid’s, Gwynneville
After a couple of months of training at the Snakepit before school, the St Brigid’s basketball squad was ready and eager to compete. In just their second year participating in the CPSBC, 18 Gwynneville students made up three teams for St Brigid’s - two Senior Boys and one Senior Girls team.
• Senior Boys A placed 37th out of 52 teams and won their quarter-final, but were defeated by just one basket in their semi final, going down to St Paul’s Albion Park 18-16.
• The Senior Boys B team won their semi final to move into the grand final, where they took out their division with a 22-6 win against Cabramatta!
• The Senior Girls made it to their quarter final, but in a close game against Bankstown that came down to the wire, the girls were beaten by two points.
St Brigid’s teacher and organiser, Kate Sparks, said the students and families of St Brigid’s thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and thanked parents for organising the children's participation at training sessions and during the Challenge days.
“It was wonderful to see the children’s newly-mastered basketball skills on show during the weekend, with some amazing shots made by our players from around the court. Both our offence and defence improved with each game. Exceptional teamwork and sportsmanship was shown by all players, as they supported each other throughout their games,” she said.
“This was a great community event for St Brigid’s. It was fantastic to see so many parents and families in attendance. I sincerely thank all the parents who supported the children and our school over the weekend.”
St Brigid’s thanks its coaches, Ms Sparks, Mrs Tarlinton, Ms Harris, and its parent managers, who assisted with the smooth running of its teams over the two days: Mrs Luccitti, Mrs Wilson, Ms McKenzie, Ms Skender and Mrs Sharman. Thanks also to Principal, Ms Kathy Uroda, who was on hand during the weekend to offer her support.
Next year’s NSW CPS Basketball Challenge weekend will be held on 26-27 October 2019 in Albury.