Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Press photos by Linda RothrockCatty Corner captured the Catasauqua League and went on to win the Tournament of Champions last week. Press photos by Linda RothrockCatty Corner captured the Catasauqua League and went on to win the Tournament of Champions last week.
Derek Hall does his traditional MVP pose with TOC organizer Eric Snyder. Derek Hall does his traditional MVP pose with TOC organizer Eric Snyder.
Brett Zieber and Catty Corner won the TOC. Brett Zieber and Catty Corner won the TOC.
Tony Brinkley keeps a close eye on the ball during last week’s finals. Tony Brinkley keeps a close eye on the ball during last week’s finals.
Aidan Ellwood looks to make a play as two defenders watch closely. Aidan Ellwood looks to make a play as two defenders watch closely.
Catty Corner wins TOC title Catty Corner wins TOC title
Phil Hall and Catty Corner won the TOC. Phil Hall and Catty Corner won the TOC.

Catty Corner wins TOC title

Saturday, August 24, 2019 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

James Snyder always will have plenty of memories of the annual Tournament of Champions (TOC). It has been a part of his life as well as his family’s since his early days as a youth.

His father and head Catty boys’ basketball coach, Eric, instituted the tournament 30 years ago.

“I have been involved with the TOC since I was a little kid,” recalled Snyder. “I remember giving Chris Michael, Gary Laubach, and Dick Tracy T-shirts at halftime.

“In high school, I was announcing in it. So, not just to play it, but also win it, makes the moment feel extra special for me.”

Snyder was part of the Catty Corner squad that defeated DHL, 53-47, to capture the crown at tournament at the Catty Playground Aug. 8. Catty Corner won the Catty League and DHL took the Allentown YMCA League.

It was the second-consecutive year that Snyder played on the winning team. His overall squad was split last season.

“This year felt better than last year because we only had one team in it,” added Snyder. “We had some injuries. To overcome those and win made it that much better. We just played so well as a team. We played egoless basketball, and I think that’s why we’re as successful as we are.”

Former Northampton product Derek Hall won the tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the second consecutive season as he scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out seven assists. He has played on the championship team for the past four years and six out of the last seven.

Hall, who played in Canada the past two seasons and has played around the world for several seasons, makes his annual summer return to his roots to visit family and play with friends. His brother, Phil, is an assistant coach on the Northampton boys’ varsity program.

“The summer was fun as always,” said Hall. “It is another chance to play basketball with my brother and friends.

“The bucket hat and T-shirt is always the goal for our team. We just took one game at a time and knew that if we played team basketball, nobody could beat us.”

Snyder echoed his teammates remarks.

“I seriously can’t express how well we mesh as a team,” added Snyder. “I’ve gotten so many compliments on how well our team plays. I’ve been told we are the most exciting team to watch, which just shows how well we play.”

Fellow Catty grad Anthony Brinkley continues to relish his experiences in the tournament.

“Playing in the tournament is always an honor,” said Brinkley. “It’s always fun competing against the best talent around the Lehigh Valley. This is a great event and Mr. Snyder does a great job putting it together each year.

“When our core of players start playing in a few different leagues around the Lehigh Valley in May, we always have our eyes set in making the TOC and competing throughout the week.”

Eric Snyder confirmed the tournament will return next season for its 31st year.

“Winning the 30th annual TOC put a cap on a great week for us. We hope to keep competing and having fun together as a team with the TOC continuing next year.”