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Students hit the court in Luzerne County

A group of young athletes got their March Madness on at Wyoming Area Catholic School in Exeter Saturday afternoon.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — It was all business on the court inside Wyoming Area Catholic School in Exeter Saturday as 32 basketball teams from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties went head to head on the hardwood.

Newswatch 16 was there for the fourth-grade championship match-up between St. Nicholas/St. Mary's vs St. Jude.

"It's pretty nerve-wracking when you're in the finals," said Mark Altavilla, St. Nicholas/St. Mary's.

St. Nick/St. Mary's pulled out the win. When asked how, "Teamwork, because it helps you win the game," said Ben McNulty, St. Nick/St. Mary's.

The brackets hung on the wall just outside the gym. The boy's and girl's teams range in age from 4th to 7th grade.

"We have a good mix of catholic and public schools, Nanticoke, Dallas down to all saints academy St. Jude, a lot of other schools from the Diocese of Scranton; it's a really good mix," said Will Beekman.

Players say the competition can get intense during the tournament. St. Jude took home the second-place trophy.

"We kinda got through the first round pretty easily. We beat the Holy Rosary Royals 34-8, but this second game was hard. This was a good team, but we just have to work harder," said Bert Marcalus.

And the grind doesn't stop for these young basketball players. They're already looking ahead to how they can improve for next season.

"We need to call out and talk more on the court because we had no communication on the court. It was just silent when we had the ball," said Luke Fauerbach.

The tournament also serves as a fundraiser for Wyoming Area Catholic School. Organizers say the biggest takeaway isn't about who wins; it's about the love of the game.

"It's great to get them out of the house, it's important to get them moving, but also the teamwork, the camaraderie, the friendships they have with their classmates turned teammates, it's just really special," said Beekman.

The 6th and 7th-grade teams will continue the tournament next week.

Want to see what Newswatch 16's newscasts were like in 1983 and 1984? Head on over to WNEP's YouTube.

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