MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Maplewood’s St. Joseph Church continues its strong and successful transition into the Essex County league of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball program in grades 2-12 this year, with the boys’ and girls’ teams showing great results across the game-packed weekends and teams showing growth each week. Home games take place in the gym — accessible from the parking lot on Hilton Avenue — and are a great way to introduce children to the game and cheer on local sports. Admission is free.
This past weekend, teams continued to impress.
On Friday night, the eighth grade girls team dropped their first game of the season, in an exciting overtime loss, 54-46, to Good Shepherd. Talia Baptiste set her CYO career high with 36 points and Summer Lonning picked up eight points for St. Joe’s. Paloma Duvergne had two points and with Rory Weldon and Hannah Straub played tenacious defense and took care of the ball to put St. Joe’s up four with a minute to go. But Good Shepherd took over in overtime to win.
On Sunday night, the eighth grade girls returned to the court, and used a balanced offense and strong defense to a 45-23 win over St. Catherine. Five Celtics scored in the first quarter to jump out to a 19-4 lead. Cat Holt and Talia Baptiste led the offense with six and seven points, respectively in the quarter. Baptiste would go on to finish with a game-high 21. Megan Driscoll and Susannah Knutsen led the defense with seven combined steals and each finished with four points. Kate Driscoll had a strong game also finishing with four points, and Peyton Hollis, Paloma Duvergne, and Rory Weldon rounded out the scoring with two points a piece.
The 9-10th grade boys squad suffered its first home loss Sunday evening by a score of 47-41 to arch rival Holy Trinity of Westfield. Once again the Celtics struggled to find the basket in the first half, making only 7 of 31 shots (23 percent). At the end of the third period they were down 35-20, before staging a sharp recovery in the fourth, by making 12 of 20 shots.
“The boys didn’t give up, and played hard-nosed basketball as they scrambled together in an effort to stage a comeback. We just ran out of time, said coach Juergens Bauer. “I look forward to playing them again.” Connor Ward led all scorers with 18 points, followed by Buchi Amobi with 9. William Walsman scored 4, while Jeremiah Cook, Frederick Groppe, Patrick Campbell and Callan Bauer had 2 points each.
The fifth and sixth grade St. Joseph boys basketball team had two wins against St. Cassian and St. Aloysius. On Saturday, St. Joe’s beat St. Cassian on the road 41-33. Gavin Lubomski led the team in scoring with a career-high 13 points to match his 13 rebounds. James Nolan filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Aidan Heindl chipped in 2 points and 5 rebounds.
On Sunday, they beat St. Al’s 51-28, paced by Liam Peterson with 18 points. Fitz Chamberlin had 14 points, and Dylan Maguire added 6. Gavin Lubomski dominated the glass, with 15 rebounds and 9 points. St. Joe’s looks to keep the winning streak going next Sunday vs. St. Peter’s.
Lubomski’s third/fourth boys team ventured to Verona to play St. Catherine’s at Our Lady of the Lake parish on Saturday. The boys came out to a strong lead in the first quarter with 6 unanswered points, and pulled out to an 8-2 lead by halftime. Will Placke was consistent throughout, with baskets in every quarter, and Kiernan Lonieski had a great game on offense as well, with 4 points. By the end, the Celtics had notched another victory, 23-6.
On Sunday Lubomski’s boys faced the St. Aloysius Saints in Caldwell. The opposition was strong, but the Celtics played tough defense, keeping the Saints’ lead to just 6-3 at the half. St. Joseph’s Tommy Walmsley kicked off the second half with a perfectly on-target shot from far out, but St. Aloysius pushed hard, scoring 9 points in the quarter. The Celtics had many chances, but many didn’t materialize on the scoreboard, and the team ended up recording their first loss of the season, 17-12, bringing the team’s record to 4-1.
Run completely by volunteers under the leadership of Gerry O’Connor, the program at St Joseph continues to grow, this year to include a ‘Shamrocks’ program for grade 1 players to learn teamwork and fundamentals, coached by former Catholic University player Emily O’Connor. This year also marks the launch of livestream games from the home gym each weekend on the website, allowing friends and family throughout the nation to keep tabs on their favorite Celtics.
This summer, CYO Celtics Basketball camp will expand to run for six weeks. The summer camp begins in June and is enrollable by the week. For more information and to see the game schedule and live stream, visit https://www.stjosephscyo.org.