TOC still going strong
In more than one capacity in his sports circles, Eric Snyder has seen it all and also has wondered how the time has flown.
Along with leading as Catty's head boys' basketball for more than 20 years, Snyder has seen the equal range of truths and consequences as director of the town's annual Tournament of Champions.
This summer, the tournament, which has developed into one of the most anticipated and prestigious hoop events throughout the Lehigh Valley and beyond, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
And the single-elimination tournament hasn't lost any of its luster over the years.
"We not only have had a number of Catty players in it, but we have also had players from all over the greater area," said Snyder. "We have had so many memorable games and many great players. It is a unique situation as we have champions from all over the area. Most of these teams don't see each other over the summer.
"It has proved to be a real test for the team that wins it."
This week, a new champion will be crowned. During the quarterfinal round Tuesday night, Daku Auto Body (Catty) defeated JCC Red (Allentown) 59-49, and Pammer Chiropractic (North Catty) downed Martin Printing (Tamaqua) 84-48.
In Wednesday's Final Four, which takes place after Press deadlines, Pammer Chiropractic will meet Daku Auto Body, and Ohlson Landscaping (Catty) will meet Certified Chemical (Forks). The championship game will be played Thursday night.
Snyder, who played for Catty Corner in the early 1990s, stated that final rounds have always had a local flavor to them.
"Back then, it was Catty Corner, Brosky's, and the Catty Cubs that were always in the thick of things," he recalled. "There have always been strong Catty teams and that's true this year. We have had some notable local players like (former pro second baseman) Pat Kelly as well as Josh Yoo, Andrew Armellino, and Matt Morton from the 2005-06 team that was successful."
Snyder noted how this year's field was down to 12 teams than the customary 16, which made it seemingly more comfortable with two games nightly. He also stated all players must play at least three games with their teams to avoid a team adding additional players for the tournament.
He recalled a time when one team won the title, but they were subsequently banned from play the next two years because of restricting their team for the tournament.
"When it comes to players, it is really an honor system," Snyder said. "We had some incidents, but this is generally a well-respected tournament. People still come out and we have local cable coverage of the finals.
"It has been a staple and a testament to all of the programs in the area."