MAPLEWOOD, NJ – In the St. Joseph of Maplewood’s Union County CYO basketball championship game held this past weekend, the Fourth Grade Celtics lost 17-16 against Oak Knoll School in the Pee Wee Red Division Championship game at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield on Sunday, March 19.
Kieran Dawkins led the Celtics with 7 points and 2 assists and Jerry Browne scored 6 key second-half points on nice passes from Dawkins and from Flynn Larson, who found Browne streaking to the basket in the final seconds to bring the Celtics within one. Thomas Campbell and Harrison Zabik split duties at point guard flawlessly, executing the Celtics’ precision offense. Campbell also added a sweet jumper for the first Celtics points of the contest.
Justin Connell manned the middle and sunk a critical free throw for the second game in a row. Will Walsh added a steal and Luke Davenport drew the assignment of guarding the opponent’s top player and used his athleticism to overcome a significant size disadvantage. Tim Van de North, Alex Szczepanski and Riley Donohue played excellent defense and contributed several nice passes to the Celtics’ effort.
The Sixth Grade Boys Green team finished up the season with a rematch from last year’s championship game against undefeated powerhouse Holy Trinity, losing 43-41. The Celtics shot 48 percent from the floor and tallied 13 assists versus only 10 turnovers, but still fell just short of a championship. Holy Trinity started extremely strong, building an early 10-0 lead. The Celtics fought back, cutting the deficit to 2 points by the end of the first quarter and taking a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. The teams combined for 31 points in the final period. In the end, Holy Trinity’s strong outside shooting and free-throw shooting made the difference, as they sunk three three-pointers on the day and made 14 of 18 foul shots.
For the Celtics, Mike Pirone collected a career-high 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 7 blocked shots, 3 steals and 2 assists. Brendan Dawkins added 6 points, including two critical fourth-quarter baskets, and added 4 assists and 3 steals. Patrick Campbell tallied 5 assists, 4 steals and a blocked shot to go along with a second-quarter jump shot. Nicholas Alexander added 2 assists. William Walsman converted on a drive to the basket and played key fourth-quarter defense against one of Holy Trinity’s top shooters.
Max Larson scored a big basket late in the fourth quarter and held one of Holy Trinity’s leading scorers in check. Liam Laskowski and Nicholas Franklin split time at shooting guard. Owen Holt contributed strong defense and rebounding. Mike Pirone and Patrick Campbell were selected by the coaches to represent the team in the annual all-star game at Roselle Catholic High School.
The St. Joseph Celtics JV Fifth Grade Girls White Division won 12-9 over a talented and spirited All Saints squad. With a one-point lead entering the final minute of play, Catherine Holt and Summer Lonning hit critical free throws to extend the lead. St. Joseph’s defense went full court to pressure the All Saints guards, and Hannah Straub sealed the win with a steal in the final seconds. Amelia Lisco started the scoring for the Celtics early in the first quarter, giving the Celtics a lead they would never relinquish.
Emilie Clitus, Peyton Hollis and Talia Baptiste also scored for the Celtics, and Paloma Duvergne led the defense pressure throughout the game. The championship is the second straight for this team. Talia Baptiste and Summer Lonning will represent the team at this weekend’s all-star game at Roselle Catholic.
The JV Blue Meola team beat St. Agnes 35-34 last Sunday afternoon at the Union Catholic gym. The teams battled all game and St. Joe’s went into halftime down 10-9. They came out strong in the third quarter and scored 15 points, including a layup from Henry Aaron that started as a defensive steal in the paint. In the fourth quarter, Liam Haley was fouled attempting a three-pointer and made 2 of the 3 from the line. Mike Pirone, Henry Aaron and Haley were the team scorers with 17, 12 and 6 respectively. Conor Cavanaugh and Aaron Budd were tough on defense, and Justin DeVomecourt and Cian O’Connor set great picks that afforded their teammates scoring opportunities. Declan Cavanaugh showed strong ball-handling skills at point guard.