MAPLEWOOD – The St. Joseph basketball teams finished strong in Week Three of the season.
The Third-Grade boys added two victories last weekend to improve their record to 5-0 and take sole possession of first place in their division. On Saturday night, the Celtics prevailed in a thrilling road game against previously unbeaten St. Helen’s by a score of 25-17.
In the boys’ strongest outing of the season to date, the Celtics used excellent ball movement, player movement and passing to generate eight assists to counter the aggressive defense of their opponent. Thomas Campbell’s three assists paced the Celtics’ passing attack.
Timothy Van de North helped the Celtics get started by finding Steven Copeland for a baseline jumper in the first quarter and Campbell found Will Walsh in the lane for another early bucket.
Flynn Larson stymied the St. Helen’s defenders all night, sinking a dizzying array of driving layups and running jumpers for a total of 10 points. Thomas Campbell added three points to his trio of assists and Kieran Dawkins chipped in with a pretty pull-up jumper and two assists. Steven Copeland controlled the paint and contributed six points and six rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, a basket from Harrison Zabik helped the Celtics maintain a comfortable margin despite a furious comeback attempt from St. Helen’s.
On Sunday, the Celtics gained their fifth victory of the young season, defeating St. Agnes by a score of 21-9 in a home game in Maplewood. The Celtics used aggressive defense to generate steals and scoring opportunities in transition. Flynn Larson tallied 11 points and four steals and Kieran Dawkins added five points and three steals.
Luke Davenport sunk a key jumper at the buzzer of the second quarter to extend the Celtics’ halftime lead to five points. Alex Szczepanski sunk a free throw and Steven Copeland had an offensive putback to help the Celtics extend their lead in the second half. Jerry Browne displayed his versatility, playing guard, forward and center for the first-place Celtics.
Justin Connell chipped in three rebounds and a steal.
The St. Joe’s Fourth-Grade boys’ team lost a tough one to All Saints Academy in Bayonne on Sunday afternoon. St. Joe’s scored a season-high 24 points, but was outplayed by a strong undefeated All Saints squad with a final score of 40-24. John Pirone and Henry Aaron were the high scorers with 10 and eight points, respectively.
Will Spreeman contributed four points to the effort with 13 rebounds. Liam Haley had two points and four rebounds.
Aaron Budd and Ian Webber continue to show strong efforts with their ball-handling skills and relentless defense which caused multiple turnovers. Declan Cavanaugh and Justin DeVomecourt battled all game against a tough All Saints defense as they scrambled on offense to find open shots.
JV Fifth-Grade boys
The JV Fifth-Grade boys’ green team picked up its fourth victory of the season on Saturday against Our Lady of Peace by a score of 33-17. Brendan Dawkins scored five of his eight points in the first quarter to stake the Celtics to an early lead they never lost.
In the second quarter, good ball movement enabled the Celtics to find Liam Laskowski on the wing for an open three-pointer that touched nothing but net, and Max Larson added a basket following an offensive rebound.
While the Celtics took a nine-point lead into the locker room at halftime, the story of the game was the Celtics’ second-half defense, led by Mike Pirone, who picked up four steals and blocked five shots, also scoring nine points to help the Celtics extend their lead to double-digits.
Max Larson found Danny Guarnieri under the basket for a key bucket, and Miles Drayton and Nicholas Alexander contributed two and four points, respectively, as the Celtics converted steals and offensive rebounds into baskets.
Nicholas Franklin’s tenacious defense and Owen Holt’s rebounding were keys to the Celtics’ well-rounded effort.
The Celtics find themselves alone in first place at 4-0 heading into the break.
JV Sixth-Grade boys
St. Joseph’s JV Sixth-Grade boys evened their record to 2-2 Sunday afternoon in Edison where they defeated St. Helen’s, 26-13, on the strength of a strong defense by Ryan Barrett, Jeremiah Cook and Ryan Nnoli.
Nico Reyes, Callen Bauer and William Walsman’s combined speed, expert ball-handling and passing plays led to multiple scoring opportunities for St. Joe’s.
Alex Werbaneth took full advantage of these opportunities by scoring nine points, followed by six each for Michael Pirone and Damian Cataneo, two for Nico and Jeremiah, and a free throw by Callen.
The team dedicated the win to their biggest fan, Paul Power, grandfather of Alex Iozzio.
The Saint Joseph Varsity Seventh-Grade boys improved their record to 4-0 on Sunday by beating St. Theresa Kenilworth 35-18. Nine different players contributed points for the Celtics.
Nicholas Aaron led all scorers with 10 points, while Ben Sczepanski contributed nine and Aiden Wolff added another seven. Ty Budd, Matt Morales and James Griffis each scored two, while Perry Reyes, Cole Latimer and Derrick Baptiste each dropped in a free throw. Devin Brown and Anthony Fuschetto played solid defense and rebounded on both ends of the floor.
The St. Joseph JV Girls came up on the short end of a 19-5 loss to Our Lady of Peace of New Providence. Our Lady of Peace raced out to an 11-1 halftime lead and never looked back, controlling the game from start to finish by using crisp passing to knock down open shots and an effective transition game to get easy baskets off turnovers.
St. Joseph made things interesting in the fourth quarter when Katie Wilkes knocked down consecutive jump shots from the left wing to cut the lead to 10 at 15-5.
But OLP ratcheted up the defensive intensity and proceeded to prevent St. Joseph from scoring the last four minutes of the game.
With the loss, St. Joseph drops to 3-2 entering the holiday break. St. Joseph received valuable contributions from a number of players, including Neve McGowan and Kathleen Wack, who grabbed several rebounds and altered several shots on defense.
St. Joseph’s CYO is a shared parish ministry for the Catholic parishioners of Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange and South Joseph’s in Maplewood. St. Joseph’s has 17 teams for girls and boys in grades 2-12.