National Catholic Invitational Basketball Tournament

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National Catholic Invitational Basketball Tournament, 1954-1978

The National Catholic Invitational Basketball Tournament was inaugurated in 1954, in Washington, D.C., and was sponsored by the national Knights of Columbus organization. The tournament was conducted at various Catholic universities in the area. The tournament was usually a three-day affair in late March. The weekend would begin with an opening banquet Friday evening, with tours of the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court the next day, and then the games, followed by the awards ceremony.

The first five tournaments were won by New York City schools, four of which were won by Archbishop Malloy (which changed its name from St. Ann's in 1958). During the 1960s, the tournament was dominated by a DC-area powerhouse, DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD).

The tournament was an East Coast affair until the early 1960s, when schools from the Chicago Catholic League began entering the tournament. The tournament usually invited both the Chicago Catholic High School Athletic League champion and the runner-up, but Chicago schools had poor success in the tournament. In 1966, three Chicago schools participated—St. Rita, Gordon Tech, and Mt. Carmel—that latter of which lost the title game to DeMatha. The last Chicago schools to attend the tournament were Mt. Carmel and Gordon Tech, both which were quickly eliminated. The Gordon Tech coach, Dick Versace, severely rapped the tournament, claiming that insults and intimidation was directed at Chicago schools, that the officiating was biased against Chicago schools, and that he would never return.

During 1964 and 1965 the tournament was in hiatus. It resumed in 1966 at Catholic University and played there the next two years, followed by stays at Georgetown and then George Mason.

The tournament initially engaged only Catholic schools, but in latter years of the tournament local public high schools were invited, as in 1975, when the public high school, Dunbar (DC), won the tournament. The last tournament was played in 1978. Tournament officials explained it was terminated because of competing local tournaments and increasing charges for tournament sites, such as for paid union security guards that had to be used at some locations.

Tournament Winners

1954 St. Ann’s (NYC)
1955 St. Ann’s (NYC)
1956 St. Francis Prep (NYC)
1957 St. Ann’s (NYC)
1958 *Archbishop Malloy (NYC)
1959 Archbishop Carroll (D.C.)
1960 Archbishop Carroll (D.C.)
1961 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1962 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1963 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1964 no tournament
1965 no tournament
1966 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1967 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1968 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1969 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1970 St. Anthony’s (D.C.)
1971 McKinley Tech (D.C.)
1972 St. Anthony’s (D.C.)
1973 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD)
1974 St John’s (DC)
1975 Dunbar (DC)
1976 ?
1977 West Catholic (Philadelphia)
1978 West Catholic (Philadelphia)

*St. Ann’s became Archbishop Malloy in 1958.

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