The a was a pretty good sports achievement back in 2016 according to Al Vilar. That’s when the CYO Saint Leonard Church/Nazzaro Center Basketball Knights finally received some overdue recognition at a recent time at the Center recognizing them for making the High School Division Regional Championship.
While they lost, it was the first time in twenty years of existence that the Knights advanced in the CYO League to the championship round.
A banner was recently place (2019) in the Nazzaro Community Center honoring the Knights for their past performance on the basketball court.
Back in 2015 the Knights were a two-time league champions and made the state championships but didn’t advance.
“In 2016, the same team was determined to advance and the Knights did just that making the jump into the Regional Tournament finals held in Connecticut,” Vilar noted.
Coaches Joseph Valarse, Kenneth Lanza and Michael Mustacchio made the team click throughout the season.
Team players were: Ryan Alves, Alex Baizano, Vance Battersby Grassa, Jase Cherchi, Evan Frechette, Peter Luongo, Tim Martin, Nicholas Mustacchio, Lorenzo Pantaleo, Michael Pittore, Anthony Ruzzo, Christopher Troiano, Michael Troiano and Guarino Vilar.
“They were a team in every sense of the word, playing and hustling with each player contributing to the historic run. They accomplished a great feat,” according to Vilar.
The Madonna Della Cava Society donated the banner while Steven Siciliano Administrative Coordinator of the Nazzaro Center made space available at the center for a recognition party.
“This team was cut from the same stone as the North End, where it is understood that to accomplish anything you need to work hard, be passionate and determined,” Vilar said.
The recognition was better late than never.