Sacred Heart beats strong with a championship CYO team set for the state tournament

The grade school in Allentown's inner-city will represent the area in the CYO basketball tournament this weekend

With the exception of a few all-star games this week, the 2013-14 high school basketball season ended Saturday night in Hershey.

But one group of young student-athletes still has a state championship in their sights.

It's the Sacred Heart Regional School grade school-level boys team that has won the Allentown Diocesan title and will represent the area in the state CYO tournament this weekend at Chestnut Hill College near Philadelphia.

Sacred Heart went 14-0 in the regular season, lost to St. Thomas More in the league playoffs, but then avenged that defeat and beat Notre Dame in the diocesan tournament.

The team is comprised of Justin Paz, Justin Rockmore, Will Melson, Justin Marrero, Shaquile Dezonie, Mike Torres, Kelvin Rodriguez, Andrew Loshard, Shane Dezonie, Jeremy Rivera and Ricardo Fermin.

The team is coached by former Dieruff player and ex-Husky and Central Catholic assistant Joe Jarjous, who is assisted by Jeff Moore and Jose Collazo.

"This is my third year coaching them and we were competitive the last two years," Jarjous, a 1991 Dieruff High graduate, said. "But we have some very talented kids who have played AAU ball and worked hard on their games and this is the best year the school has ever had.

"Everybody is pretty excited about it. It has brought the whole community together."

Jarjous, who was instrumental in the development of past high school stars such as Dieruff grad Anthony Ross and Central Catholic product Carlos Pujols during their high school careers, said he has great kids up and down his roster.

"It has been a lot of fun because not only are these kids great basketball players, but they're also excellent in the classroom and great to be around," Jarjous said. "We check up on them all the time with their teachers, but we never have to worry about their academics. It has been a nice ride overall."

Sacred Heart has produced some special players over the years including Jeanlee Baez and Ben Pratt who shined right next door at Central Catholic. Baez and Pratt were major contributors to Central's 29-1 Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11 3A championship team in the season just completed.

But this was a special team.

"We have great kids and Coach Jarjous has done just a great job with them … we're lucky to have him coach our team," Sacred Heart principal Jim Krupka said. "We're very proud of them because they're great representatives of our school. They're the type of kids you want to root for."

Jarjous wanted to share the credit with others and thanked Father Andy Gehringer from St. Paul's parish, Monsignor John Grabish from Sacred Heart for their support as well as Rick Wagner from C.J. Wagner Bowling Supplies and Trophies.

For Jarjous, it has been a family affair with his 7-year-old daughter, Chloe, and twin 6-year-old sons, Dylan and Anthony, serving as team managers. They're also Sacred Heart students.

Sacred Heart opens up the eight-team CYO state tournament at 4 p.m. Friday against Harrisburg. With a win, the Allentown team would play either the Philadelphia or Scranton.

Win or lose, Jarjous, who hopes to get back into high school coaching one day, possibly as a head coach, said it has been a special season.

"I don't know where these kids are headed after Sacred Heart and I don't get involved with that," he said. "But wherever they go, they're going to be successful. This is a nice story because it's a small, inner-city Catholic school where everybody has come together to have success."

Hopefully, they'll have more success this weekend in the state tournament.

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