By SHEILA OJENDYK
GREENVILLE — More than 1,500 people converged on Greenville the weekend of March 19-21 for fellowship, fun and basketball. The event was the South Carolina State Catholic Youth Basketball Tournament, which is the largest Catholic youth gathering in the state.
According to Mickey Farmer, youth minister at St. Mary, “The emphasis is on fellowship and basketball.” There are no district-level playoffs for these teams of middle-school children, so any team can come to the tournament.
Fifty-three teams from 20 parishes all over the state played 70 games of basketball. The teams played all day Saturday at eight gymnasiums. Prince of Peace in Taylors and Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville hosted games as did Trinity Lutheran, Pendleton Street Baptist, First Presbyterian, Northgate Baptist and Associated Reformed Presbyterian Churches. Eastside High School and Greenville High School also lent their gyms. All teams played on Saturday, and 20 teams played the championship and consolation games on Sunday.
The tournament champions were the junior girls from Christ Our King/Stella Maris in Charleston, junior boys from St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken, senior girls from St. Joseph in Charleston and senior boys from St. Mary in Greenville.
Consolation winners were the junior girls from St. Mary in Greenville, junior boys from St. Mary in Greenville, senior girls from Summerville Catholic and senior boys from Prince of Peace.
Farmer said, “The kids were absolutely wonderful. … They were great about sportsmanship and fair play.”
Sportsmanship trophies were awarded to the junior girls from Blessed Sacrament in Charleston, junior boys from Our Lady of the Rosary, senior girls from St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach and senior boys from Summerville Catholic.
St. Mary hosted a pizza party and dance after their Saturday night Mass, and more than 500 young people attended.
Next year’s tournament will take place March 17-19 in Charleston.