Athlete of the Month: Leahy O’Conner

Athlete of the Month - Leahy O'Connor2By Steve Svetovich

Leahy O’Connor knows how to seize an opportunity. Take his experience at Holy Cross High School, for instance. Leahy enjoyed Holy Cross to the fullest.

Son of James and April O’Connor, Leahy, 18, was a four-year member of both the baseball and basketball teams at Holy Cross. When he wasn’t practicing or playing a game, Leahy concentrated on academics and will graduate with a highly impressive 3.9 grade point average.

Leahy will attend college at the University of Pittsburgh where he will study pre-law in the fall.

“I have been looking at the University of Pittsburgh for a long time,” he said. “My dad and my aunt both went to colleges in Pittsburgh. I have been to Pittsburgh a lot and love the city. I am really looking forward to it.”

The scholar-athlete learned his work ethic from his parents. “My parents taught me the value of hard work and about how to overcome failure in order to succeed,” Leahy said.

Leahy was named honorable mention as a junior and was selected first-team all-league as a senior for basketball. 

Athlete of the Month LeahyHe averaged 12.5 points per game as a small forward this past year for the Crusaders under veteran basketball coach Al Callejas.

He scored 650 career points at Holy Cross.

A superb center fielder on the baseball team, he batted .273 as a junior. He was disappointed over the cancellation of his senior baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was devastating not to play baseball,” he said. “We thought our team would strongly compete for the league and district title and even go further. It was tough not to be able to play as a senior.”

The hard working senior said he learned a lot from Holy Cross basketball coach Al Callejas. “He teaches you how to overcome difficulty. And that is how you become a success.”

Leahy also enjoyed playing for Holy Cross veteran baseball coach Sandy Menichetti. “He is a lot of fun to play for. He teaches us how to enjoy what we are doing while still working hard. He wants us to have fun, but still give our best effort.”

Leahy said his best academic subject is English. He is a member of Student Council, the National Honor Society and the History Club at Holy Cross.

He is very proud of the Holy Cross basketball team’s achievements this past year in winning the league and district titles and advancing to the second round in the state playoffs.

“Our hard work really paid off,” he said. “We worked hard the entire summer to get ready for the season. We were in the gym 10 months of the year working extremely hard. Our team success is really special because we put in the effort and it paid off.”

Leahy, who is a huge fan of the late Tom Petty, said he loved his four years at Holy Cross.

“It was just a great experience,” he said. “The atmosphere is the best. Everybody accepted me there. Seniors became friends with me when I was a freshman there. Likewise, I made sure to make friends with the freshmen when I was a senior. 

“That is the kind of school it is. It is close knit.”

And Leahy is not the kind of a young man who sits still. He is keeping busy during the COVID-19 pandemic studying and working. He works at a gas station in Archbald and does some landscaping work at Marywood University. 

“I’m trying to save some money for college,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Pittsburgh.”

Crusaders Win 2020 Intraborough Boys Championship

Intraborough Holy Cross

The Intraborough Boys Basketball Championship Game between Dunmore and Holy Cross High Schools was recently held at Holy Cross High School.

This year the Holy Cross Boys defeated the Dunmore Boys by a score 69-46 and ended the regular season with a 20-2 record. The Holy Cross boys’ team is the top rated basketball club by the Scranton Times Sport Writers.

The game sponsored by the Dunmore Lions Club to help defray the cost of their College Scholarship Program is now in its 39thyear.  This year both teams will be entering the District Playoffs.

Holy Cross team members include, kneeling from left: Coach Mike Zayac, David Romanski, Hayden Hosie, Caleb Callejas, Head Coach Al Callejas, and Lion President Jim Aita, standing with trophy; Leahy O’Connor, Doug Walsh, and John Hartridge.

Standing, same order: Lions Angelo Martarano and Leo Wentline Jr.; Tyler Mendicino, Kyler Kovaleski, David Mariotti, Jalik Nicholls, Kieran Burrier, Angelo Norella, Coach Corey Joyce, Patrick Bennie, Joe Osborne, Coach Rob Heyen, T.J. Liuzzo, Will Kitrell, Jack Allardyce, JuJuan Nicholls, James Calciano, Sean Kennedy, Adam Mariotti, Coach Al Callejas, Lion Rich Green, Coach Tim Callejas, Lion Jim Colangelo, Logan Aldridge, and Coach Rich LaRussa.

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Intraborough Dunmore Bucks

Pictured above are coaches and players from Dunmore High School, including, kneeling in front from left: Austin Waters, Tommy Dougherty, Joe Mandarano, Owen Haggerty, Tommy Lewis, with trophy Head Coach Kevin Clark, Lion President Jim Aita, Rich Conte, and Kevin Walsh. Standing, middle row, same order: Lion Jim Colangelo, Coach Ryan Ehnot, Dom Temperino, Steve Borgia, Nico Ruggiero, Adriel DeNaples, Zack Cruser, Liam Crolly, Frankie Ruggiero, Aiden Sload, Hunter Robertson, Coach Michael Ehnot, Lion Rich Green, Coach Paul Biagoli, Lion Angelo Martarano, and Coach Jamie Monahan. Standing, back row: Lion Leo Wentline Jr., Luca boles, Colby Murray, Tyler Maciejewski, Jeffery Walsh, and Caid DeNaples.

Defense Leads Holy Cross to 4th Straight District 2 Class 2A Title

Crusaders 4 PEAT District 2 Champions

By Steve Svetovich

Veteran coach Al Callejas led the Holy Cross Crusaders to its fourth consecutive PIAA District 2 Class 2A title, 47-19, over Mountain View Saturday, February 29, at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Leahy O’Connor led the Crusaders with 14 points in the title win.

Patrick Bennie added 12 points and six rebounds for Holy Cross.

Holy Cross senior guard Kieran Burrier added six points, nine rebounds, six steals, three assists and a block in a nice all around effort.

Crusaders senior guard James Calciano scored six points.

Holy Cross (23-2) will now face District 4 third-place Sayre in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs Saturday, March 7.

The Crusaders relied on a tough defense forcing early turnovers to generate a 32-7 first half lead over Mountain View. The Crusaders then held Mountain View to only three points in the third quarter to extend the lead to 41-10.

The Crusaders’ first quarter defensive intensity forced eight Mountain View turnovers.

Burrier hit on a 3-pointer off a Caleb Callejas pass in transition off a turnover to give Holy Cross a 9-0 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter. It was smooth sailing after that.

The Eagles managed only four shots in the first quarter due to a tight, stingy Holy Cross defense led by standout Burrier. The steady senior had four of his six steals in the first quarter. 

After an early 19-0 run, the Crusaders finished the first half out scoring the Eagles, 13-5, with Calciano scoring four of the points and backup guard John Hartridge hitting on a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left in the half.

The Crusaders pretty much put the game away by starting the second half on a 9-1 run, with baskets by O’Connor, Bennie, Calciano and Joe Osborne.

Michael Fanelli led Mountain View with 11 points.

The Crusaders defeated Blue Ridge, 68-24, in the quarterfinals, with Bennie scoring 15 and O’Connor and Burrier adding 13 and 11 points, respectively. Holy Cross beat Old Forge, 60-48 in the semifinals, a much closer contest.

Burrier is the Crusaders leading scorer at a shade under 16 points per game. O’Connor averages 11.6 points and Bennie 11.3 points per contest, respectively.

Holy Cross has won four straight and eight District 2 Class 2A championships overall in a basketball program that began in 2007-08. 

Mountain View is coached by former Holy Cross standout Joe Gibbons. He helped lead the Holy Cross program’s first team to a title in 2008 under Callejas. The Crusaders opened this season with a 51-26 win over Mountain View.

Callejas, a member of the Northeast Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame, now has 512 career coaching wins and a highly impressive 41-6 record in District 2 playoff games.

Holy Cross boasts the program’s best record since 2008 when it finished 24-3.

Holy Cross and Mountain View played in the 2017 championship game won by the Crusaders, 46-18.