In 2012, the Northern Chautauqua Catholic School basketball team captured the WNY Diocesan Championship, first ever in the school's history in the Varsity Boys division. While only losing two starters from that team, Coach Tom Dempsey set high expectations for his 2013 squad, a total of only eight players. Returning starters Daniel Barnes, Bryan Dempsey and Noah Fleckenstein were at times dominant and key contributions from Charlie Roth, Jack Penharlow, Jack Gaken, first timer Max Condoyannis and sixth grader Nicholas Pucci, helped pave the wave for another title run this year.
"We set goals each year", the elder Dempsey commented. "Win the league, get to the playoffs and go from there. At this level, most teams have one, maybe two players with outstanding basketball ability. We were fortunate to have that and more, and they were already battle-tested from last year. In addition, we start these kids out in a Diocesan-run JV program as young as third grade and it helps in the development."
The Monarchs strive to play a hefty schedule of games against both public and parochial schools each year, to help the kids reach their maximum potential. That uneasy task began more than 30 years ago by now-retired head coach, Jimmy Noto, who would take his squads anywhere to play; 95 percent of the time on the road. Noto would often joke about how far it was for other teams to come to Dunkirk and play.
Pictured above are members of the Northern Chautauqua Catholic School basketball team. They were crowned 2013 Diocesan Champions. They are, in front from left, Daniel Barnes, Bryan Dempsey, Max Condoyannis and Jack Penharlow. In back are Head Coach Tom Dempsey, Charlie Roth, Jack Gaken, Noah Fleckenstein, Nicholas Pucci and Assistant Coach Steve Pantano. Missing is Assistant Coach Dr. Steven Barnes. Below, Bryan?Dempsey (11) plays defense during a recent basketball game.
This year the team competed in seven tournaments. The team took first place in the St. Peter & Paul Invitational in Hamburg and the NCCS "Peg" Smith Memorial Invitational in Dunkirk. At the St. Peter & Paul Tournament, Barnes was named MVP while Dempsey and Fleckenstein were named all tournament players. At the NCCS "Peg" Smith tournament, Dempsey was tabbed MVP while Barnes won the annual "Jim Noto Hustle Award" and Charlie Roth the annual "Joe Karnes Sportsmanship Award." Fleckenstein, Gaken and Pucci were named all tournament players.
In recent years, the WNY Catholic Diocese divided the basketball program into one large and one small school division, to allow for such schools as NCCS to better compete for Diocesan titles. The separation is based on the male enrollment of each school in grades 6, 7 and 8. NCCS currently has 23 boys in these grades. This makes their run over the last two years, that much more impressive.
This year's playoff run included wins against Christ the King of Williamsville, Our Lady of Nativity of Orchard Park and for the second straight year in the title game, St. John Vianney of Orchard Park. This caps a 55-9 record for the boys over the past two seasons. Along with the continued success of the girls basketball program (runner up to the 2013 Diocesan title), the Monarchs have earned the respect from all other schools competing in the Diocese.
NCCS is the only school in the area to offer Catholic education along with basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and track & field programs for kids through 8th grade. For more information on the school, call 366-0360 or visit the website at www.nccschool.org.