Holiday Festival Tournament was a first

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 December 2020 at 9:19 am

Contributed Photo – Medina’s Dick Zielinski puts up a shot against Albion defenders Ron Greenlee (21) and Dave Greenlee (15) during the semifinals of the first Holiday Festival Tournament held during the 1958-59 season at Middleport and Medina.

In recent decades tournaments, especially during the Christmas holiday time, have become a very popular part of the high school basketball season (at least until this Covid-19 Pandemic year).

Locally the first such event was the inaugural Holiday Festival Tournament held during the 1958 Christmas break.

That first tourney brought together an interesting mix of four teams from three different leagues including Medina and Roy-Hart from the Niagara-Orleans League, Lockport from the Niagara Frontier League and Albion which was then a member of the Genesee Orleans (now Genesee Region) League.

The semifinal round, which was held at Middleport, saw Albion defeat Medina 32-26 and Lockport down Roy-Hart 54-38.

Albion was paced by Dave Greenlee with 16 while Dick Zielinski had 13 for Medina and Bruce Ryder 17 for Roy-Hart.

Medina then hosted the consolation and championship games. Lockport captured the tourney title by defeating Albion 60-53 while Medina took third place honors with a 43-37 victory over Roy-Hart.

Lockport was led by Al Rose with 15 and Jim Swick 12 while Dave Greenlee netted 15, Denny Silzewski 13 and Ron Greenlee 12 for Albion. Zielinski tallied 18 and Pat McElwee 12 for Medina while Ryder scored 15 for Roy-Hart.

The 1959 tournament, which was delayed twice by a snowstorm, was held entirely at Medina with Kendall replacing Lockport in the field.

The semifinals saw Albion defeat Roy-Hart 49-43 and Kendall best Medina 47-20.

Albion went on to defeat Kendall 60-39 in the championship game while Roy-Hart trimmed Medina 43-41 in the consolation contest.

Dave Greenlee scored 15 while Silzewski and Dick Forder each added 13 to lead the way in the title game for Albion which went on to post a perfect 20-0 season capped off by a 56-42 win over Honeoye Falls in the Section V Class A championship game.

The third and final Holiday Festival Tournament was held during the 1960 Christmas break with Kendall hosting the semifinals and Middleport the consolation and championship games.

The semifinal round saw Medina defeat Kendall 47-22 and Albion edge past Roy-Hart 47-43.

Dick Miller scored 16 and Bill Rankin 14 to pace Medina while Joe Capurso tallied 30 for Albion.

Medina then claimed the tourney championship by downing Albion 56-29 as Norm Goheen led the way with 30.  Capurso was high for Albion with 13.

In the consolation game Roy-Hart downed Kendall 60-30.

Though a short lived event it was the forerunner of many local holiday and early season tournaments to follow over the next few decades.