John Habib's City Sports: QCIBT set for second half-century
IF HISTORY is a guide, whoever wins next week’s Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament has better than a 1-in-3 chance of going on to win an NHIAA boys’ state title.
Since the inaugural QCIBT in 1963, 17 of its 50 winners (34 percent) have gone on to finish the season with a championship.
And with preseason Division I co-favorites Manchester Central and Trinity in this year’s QCIBT, there’s a good chance the percentage of state champs who earlier won the Manchester holiday tournament is about to rise.
The 51st QCIBT tips off Thursday at Manchester Memorial High with four games. Bedford plays Exeter in the 3 p.m. opener, followed by Merrimack and Weaver High of Hartford, Conn., at 4:30, Central and Manchester West at 6, and Trinity and Memorial at 7:30.
On Friday, two losers’ bracket games will be played at 3 and 4:30 p.m. followed by the winners’ bracket games at 6 and 7:30.
Saturday will feature three consolation-round games, beginning at 3 p.m. and leading up to the championship game at 7:30.
Memorial’s Jack Quirk, set to make his 25th QCIBT coaching appearance, said the tournament never gets old for the players and fans.
“It gives everyone a chance to see the local teams and how they stack up against each other,” Quirk said. “Different teams take a different philosophy playing in the tournament. Some use the tournament as scrimmages, especially if they’re not in the winners’ bracket. Others go out to win at all cost.”
Quirk believes the QCIBT is one of the oldest high school Christmas tournaments in the nation and may be the oldest in the Granite State.
“To my knowledge, there wasn’t another one in the state when we held the first one in 1963,” he said.
The first six QCIBTs were held at St. Anselm College. Central hosted in 1969 and 1974. In between, Memorial had it for four seasons before regaining it for five more years from 1975 to 1979.
The tournament moved to New Hampshire College from 1980-83 before moving back to Memorial, which has hosted it since 1984.
“It’s a great tradition, and the booster club at Memorial does a great job hosting it,” said Bedford coach Mike Fitzpatrick, who previously coached at Memorial for four seasons. “The Memorial gym is always packed, and they have enough parking to accommodate the fans.”
Quirk said there’s a reason why many teams from outside the state don’t participate in the QCIBT anymore.
“It’s because if they lose a game or two, it counts on their overall record,” the Memorial coach said. “That’s not the case here in New Hampshire. The losses don’t count on our record. We’ve always had very good teams in our tournament, and teams outside the state just don’t want to take the chance of losing a couple of games. It may jeopardize their season in the standings at the end of the year.”
Last year in the 50th QCIBT, the tournament honored the 1963 Bishop Bradley team, which won both the holiday and state titles under the late Frank O’Donnell. Many members of that team — among them Peter DeCato, Dan Kiestlinger and Mark Telge — were in attendance.
If anyone deserves the designation of official QCIBT historian, that person is Tommy Ameen, who has been keeping statistics of tournament games since ’63.
According to Ameen’s records, Central has won the tourney a record 23 times, with Trinity/Bishop Bradley claiming six titles. Memorial, the defending champion, and Merrimack have won four apiece.
The original eight QCIBT teams, according to Ameen were the four city teams plus Keene, Dover, Nashua and Laconia.
Ameen’s list of the 25 players who have scored at least 100 points in the QCIBT — opening round and winners’ bracket games only — reads like a who’s-who of New Hampshire boys’ basketball over the past half-century (with a few Boston College High stars thrown in):
Tyler Roche, Central (2002-05), 201 points
Keith Friel, Oyster River of Durham (1992-95), 183
Corey Hassan, Merrimack (2002-04), 180
Calen Paquette, Central (1995-97), 168
Adam Gureckis, Nashua (1967-70), 167
Frank Powell, Boston College High (1985-88), 166
Andy Paul, Trinity (1975-77), 137
John Gureckis, Nashua (1972-75), 127
Chris Schneider, Central (1988-90), 125
Peter Reilly, Trinity (1973-75), 122
Mike Flanagan, Memorial (1967-70), 120
Mike Applegate, Memorial (1969-71), 120
Dave Gavin, B.C. High (1985-86), 116
Andy Johnston, Keene (1980-82), 115
Peter Dufour, Nashua (1969-71), 113
Mike Loughlin, West (1997-99), 113
Matt Hendershot, West (1996-98), 112
Tyler Gendron, Merrimack (2009-11), 112
Ryan Stys, Central (1997-99), 111
George Daway, B.C. High (1981-83), 108
Jason Richardson, West (1990-92), 107
George Karageorgos, Central (1988-89), 106
Alex Burt, Dover (2007-09), 105
Kevin Watterson, Keene (1967-69), 102
Stan Spirou, Central (1968-69), 100
The oldest individual QCIBT record of note belongs to Memorial center Mike O’Neil, whose 15 free throws in a 1965 game remain the single-game standard 48 years later.
An asterisk may be required if any team ever breaks the single-game scoring record. No one has surpassed the 98 points Memorial put on the board one night in 1977 — before the introduction of the 3-point line.
THE BAUER Christmas Hockey Classic doesn’t have the history of the QCIBT, but in a few short years, it’s gained a reputation as a high-caliber event.
The fourth Bauer Classic takes place at JFK Coliseum Dec. 26-29.
A field of eight teams will play three games each in a two-bracket format leading up to Sunday’s consolation and championship games, with the two bracket leaders facing off in the final. In one bracket are Memorial, Bedford, Concord and Hanover. In the other: Central, Trinity, Goffstown and Merrimack.
Games during the first three days will take place at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. The schedule on Day 1 goes Concord-Hanover, Goffstown-Merrimack, Central-Trinity and Memorial Bedford. On Day 2, it’s Memorial-Hanover, Bedford-Concord, Goffstown-Trinity and Central-Merrimack. On Saturday: Central-Goffstown, Bedford-Hanover, Trinity-Merrimack and Concord-Memorial.
The consolation game between the two second-place teams will take place on Sunday at 5:30 p.m., with the championship to follow at 7:30.
Memorial plans to raise its 2012-13 NHIAA Division I championship banner before the Saturday game against Concord. Players who graduated or moved on to other programs after last season are expected to join their former teammates for the brief ceremony.
“City Sports” is published Saturday’s in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.