St. Joseph’s 12th grade boys basketball team wins Union County CYO crown

Pictured are members of the St. Joseph’s 12th grade boys basketball team that won the Union County CYO High School Red Division Championship. Back row from left are Gerry O’Connor, Justin Herron, Sean Hess, Jack Harrigan, Alijah St. Vil, Joe Starzynski, Thomas O’Connor, Sean Grafing, and Jack Carey. Kneeling, Sean Quinn and Brian Ettienne.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – St. Joseph’s high school 12th grade boys basketball team won the Union County CYO High School Red Division Championship against St. Helen’s of Westfield on Sunday with a final score of 58-55.

With the score tied at 55, St Joseph’s held the ball for the final 45 seconds with Jack Carey hitting a three-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in the game. Carey finished the game with a team-high 22 points.  After a St. Helen’s time out, Sean Quinn, who had 14 points, stole the inbound pass to seal victory for the Celtics.

The Celtics were led by point guards Brian Etienne, who had a team-high 4 steals, and Joe Starzcynski, who had 5 assists in the game.  Sean Hess had 4 blocks and 6 rebounds while Sean Grafing added 8 points and 5 rebounds. Jack Harrigan finished with 4 points. Throughout the year, Thomas O’Connor came up big in every game, hitting several three-pointers and getting key rebounds.

The team was led defensively by Alijah St. Vil, whose tenacious defense caused many turnovers, and Justin Herron, who was always in the right spot to get a rebound when needed or to pick up a loose ball.

The team won nine games in a row after losing the first two of the season to finish with a 9-2 record.

Prior to the game, head coach Gerry O’Connor announced that after 34 years of coaching youth sports, this would be his last game as a coach.

“It was a great way to end my coaching career,” O’Connor said. “This team made every game interesting, since we usually were always down at halftime. They kept telling me not to worry, we are a better second-half team, and they were always right.” O’Connor will continue to serve as St. Joseph’s athletic director.