The Catholic Youth Organization of Mercer County, held its fifth Basketball Hall of Fame dinner and awards banquet in the Nottingham Ballroom, Hamilton Square Nov. 18. The inductees accepted their honors in front of a packed house of more than 150 in attendance, including CYO board members and staff, fellow inductees, family and friends.
This year marked the CYO’s 60th year of basketball in Mercer County as they inducted 18 individuals from five categories including male and female players, coaches, referees, and special contributors into its Basketball Hall of Fame bringing its total to 105 since it was established in 2003.
Among the coaches inducted were: Frank Adams, (posthumously) long time coach of St. Mary Assumption boys’ basketball team. Adams led many of his teams to championships and they competed in various tournaments all across North Jersey and the Philadelphia area before travel teams were established.
Ralph Cray Sr. (posthumously) was a legendary CYO coach for 25 years in Incarnation, Ewing, coaching both the boys’ varsity and junior varsity teams. Cray coached four teams to undefeated seasons. He combined his CYO teams with the Trenton Police Athletic League to form a travel team known as Ralph’s Raiders, giving these kids the chance to play the “Big Time.”
George Kinczel, after an amazing basketball career playing for St. Stephens’ and Trenton Catholic, went on to become a successful CYO coach for 12 years, leading his team to a championship over St. Mary’s. He went on to become the first coach in 1971 at St. Gregory the Great School, Hamilton Square.
Among the male players inducted were; Jules “Skip” Harlicka, St. Hedwig. He continued his career at Notre Dame where he was named an All-City, All-State, and All-American player. He accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of South Carolina. Harlicka’s accomplishments earned him induction into the University of South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1997, the Notre Dame High School Hall of Fame in 2007 and the South Carolina State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
Mike Kasian, Holy Angels, was a standout on the 68-69 team. During this time he led Holy Angel’s to the St. Anthony’s Sending School Tournament Championship and to the CYO Northern Division Championship, winning MVP both times. Kasian continued his basketball career in adult leagues winning many league honors, MVP awards and championships. An active coach in the community for 17 straight years, he shares the honor of being inducted with his daughter, Nicole Kasian.
Andrew Kennedy, Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, Trenton, was a star from 1987 to 1990. He led Cathedral to CYO Championships in 1988 and 1990 and a championship appearance in 1989. He was named Cathedral’s MVP in 1989 and 1990. He went on to play for McCorristin High School, The Hun School, Rowan University and Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.
Mike “Spider” Maguire, St. Paul, Princeton, played for seven years from 1960 to 1966. He was named Southern Division MVP in 1966, was selected to the All Star Team in 1965 and 1966 and led St. Paul’s with 29 points to win the Championship in 1966. He went on to play for The Hun School where he was named MVP in 1970. He played college hoops at Susquehanna University.
Anthony “Tony” Nitti, played for St. James from 1956-1960 and led them to the 1960 Championship being named MVP, averaging 18 points a game and finishing with a 30-1 record. He continued playing for Cathedral and was a member of the 1963 State Championship team.
Noel Powell, played for Sacred Heart from 1980 to 1983, receiving several awards including the Holy Cross Tournament Sportsmanship Award, McCorristin Tournament MVP, and the 1983 CYO MVP. He went on to play college ball at Coppin State and Trenton State College.
Female players inducted include: Jenn Hanlon-Lombardo, St. Stanislaus, who led St. Stanislaus to several championships during her playing time from 1987-1991. She was selected to three CYO All Star Teams, five tournament MVP’s and a CYO Playoff MVP. Her basketball career continued at Notre Dame where she was given the coaches award, and went on to play for Alvernia College, where she led the team to the 1998 Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Championship.
Nicole Kasian, led Our Lady of Sorrows to many victories and championships including the 1999 Large School Championship. She was the CYO 1999 MVP and named to the CYO Christmas Classic All Tournament Team in 1998 and 1999. Kasian went on to play for Steinert High School, where she was named 2004 Steinert Scholar-Athlete.
Robyn Korchik-Lucchesi, St. Stanislaus, was a four year star in the early 80’s leading them to the 1983 Small School Division Championship and named MVP. She continued playing for McCorristin High School where she was named the 1987 McCorristin Scholar-Athlete of the Year. While playing for Trenton State College she led her team to the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 and the team was inducted into the TCNJ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. She now coaches CYO basketball for St. Gregory’s girls’ junior varsity team.
Sandy Mahon-Terry, Our Lady of Sorrows, was a star player in the late 1970’s leading her team to many victories, and being awarded the League Sportsmanship Award in 1978. She went on to play for Notre Dame High School, where she led her team to the 1983 Mercer County Tournament Championship. She continued to play at Trenton State College during which the team won the 1984 NCAA Division III Easter Regional Championship.
Ami Opalski, Holy Angels, played from 1989-1992, during that time she scored 750 points and was a regular selection at the CYO All Star teams. She continued her basketball career at Hamilton High West, being named County Player of the Week. She is currently the head athletic trainer at Somerville High School.
Tracy Quinn, St. Raphael, led the team to numerous league and tournament championships where she received several MVP awards and All Tournament acknowledgements. She went on to play for Hamilton High West, where she led them to the 1983 Group IV State Championship capturing the tournament MVP. She was the first female to score 1,000 points in Hamilton public school history. She received a full scholarship to play for Holy Cross College and appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1985. She was named MAAC Player of the Year in 1987.
Inductee Andy Kondash refereed for the CYO for 27 years, retiring in 2005. He was one of the most well respected officials in his time. Prior to refereeing, he was also a player and coach.
Special Contributors inducted included: Mary Kondash (posthumously), daughter of Andy Kondash, who played a valuable role in the CYO basketball program for 22 years from 1987 to 2009 working thousands of games as gate keeper, timekeeper and in numerous other capacities.
Bob Malloy, who was the first athletic director of the CYO Basketball program from 1962 to 1969 laid the ground work and shaped the program for the athletic directors that followed him.
For extended biographies or information on the CYO of Mercer County visit www.cyomercer.org.