St. Joseph of Maplewood Celtics basketball teams enjoy fine play

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The St. Joseph of Maplewood basketball teams enjoyed fine efforts recently.

The girls eighth grade team defeated St. Joseph’s of East Orange on Friday night by a final score of 78-61 to move to 5-1 on the season.

Summer Lonning had a CYO-career night with a double-double, including 27 points and 15 rebounds. Talia Baptiste led all scorers in the game with 39 points, including a 15-point burst in the fourth quarter. Hannah Straub spread six points over three quarters with key baskets to stop several big East Orange scoring runs. Paloma Duvergne had four points, all at critical moments in the third quarter, and also finished with eigh rebounds and four steals. Rory Weldon once again led the defense against East Orange’s top scorer, and scored two points to close out a big 21-point third quarter for St. Joseph’s.

The weekend before, the St. Joseph varsity girls eighth grade team won at home on Sunday by a final score of 57-32 over Good Shepherd Academy. Down 14-12 at the end of the first quarter, the Celtics’ defense took over in the second quarter,  yielding only two points to run out to a 24-16 lead, as the Celtics would not relinquish the lead thereafter.

Baptiste led all scorers in the game with 23 points. Lonning finished with a season-high 17, and seven girls scored overall for the Celtics. Duvergne had a breakout game offensively, finishing with seven points and four assists. Weldon led the second-quarter comeback with four points and two assists in just four minutes, and Susannah Knutsen, Peyton Hollis and Catherine Holt rounded out the scoring with two points apiece. Hollis and Megan Driscoll paced the defense with four steals apiece, and Kate Driscoll finished with eight rebounds.

Baptiste is now averaging 26 points per game through five games this season.

On February 8, the ninth- and 10th-grade boys  team defeated Westfield’s St. Helen’s, always a force in CYO play, by a score of 64-53.

Down by 10 points at the half, by a score of 23-33, the St. Joe’s boys battled back in the third period to take the lead and then surged to a strong finish, scoring 41 second half points while holding St. Helen’s to only 20.

“Frequently we struggle early, but there are times like this evening when they really click,” said Coach Bauer. “Tonight’s second half was the best we’ve played. The boys did a superior job, and they played with pride, Celtic pride!”

Scoring 15 points, all in the second half, was Patrick Campbell. Buchi Amobi finished with 13, Jeremiah Cook and Frederick Groppe each added nine, and Edward Garcia and William Walsman had eight, while Danny Guarneri sank a pair of free throws to complete the 23-point fourth quarter.

The next day, Westfield’s Holy Trinity experienced more Celtic strength, with stellar guard play the key to the boys team victory,  with balanced scoring made possible as ball-hawking defensive pressure created offensive opportunities and brought the team to 5-5.

Bauer said, “I have been asking our team all season to make their layups. Prior to tonight’s game, I made sure to specifically add the word ‘please.’ I am so very proud of these young men. They played like a team! Nicholas Franklin consistently drove to the basket, finishing several drives with successful layups, and his resulting smile was magical.”

Individual efforts were numerous. Amobi probed the lane several times, although his six points came from a pair of threes.

Liam Laskowski displayed movement on both sides of the floor and took three good shots.

Edward Garcia, who gave up a few inches to each of his opponents, persisted in causing missed shots and grabbed a handful of rebounds. Owen Holt, in the running for unofficial most improved player, really has come on strong.

Campbell, with 14 points, again handled the ball with savvy and distributed several  shiney assists. Groppe’s notoriety for scoring early held, with 11 points. He shot over 50 percent, with two nice drives to the hoop.

Callan Bauer, who fouled out the previous night, enjoyed a good outing, shooting well and scoring 10, as did William Walsman. Both players also showed their abilities on the defensive end, with William once again repeatedly picking opponent’s pockets, while Callan protected the baseline, grabbed a handful of rebounds and played solidly. Jeremiah Cook continued to deliver solidly for the team as well as they headed straight back to the gym on Monday for practice.

The victory over St. Helen’s avenged the prior weekend’s Celtic outing against that team,  a 59-49 loss. The Celtics clawed their way back on two separate occasions, twice cutting the deficit to one point.  According to Coach Bauer, “Our boys showed they have the talent; now if we can just play smarter and focus, we will be in position to succeed.”

Jeremiah Cook had his best game ever that night, scoring 18 points, diving for every loose ball and Patrick Campbell followed with a tenacious dozen, mainly by driving to the hoop repeatedly. Connor Ward added eight and Frederick Groppe five points. Rounding out the scoring with two points apiece were Owen Holt, Buchi Amobi and Callan Bauer.

On Jan. 26, the varsity boys Walsh team lost to a tough St. Catherine’s team, 43-34.  Riley Walsman led all scorers with 13, followed by Lincoln Kessler and Simon Meade with five each.  Timothy Van de North, Will Walsh and Riley Donohue played tough defense with multiple steals and blocks.  Andrew Randazza hit a late 3 to close the score to 30-26, but St Catherine’s pulled away with two three-pointers of its own.

It was a duel between two St. Josephs. Lubobski’s third-fourth grade boys from Maplewood tipped off against the hometown East Orange team on Saturday. The Celtics launched into a big,  early lead thanks to an eight-point first quarter from Will Placke, and the team was ahead 26-2 at the half. Jack Pachal led the Celtics with 11 points – two on consecutive free throws – helping secure victory for St. Joe’s Green, 37-4.

On Sunday, Lumboski’s boys seemingly had the advantage over St. Aloysius with a deeper bench, but the Saints came out strong with some fast layups to pull out a 7-2 lead. The Celtics tightened up their defense, though, and finished the half behind, 17-12. Although the team fought back hard, and Blake Waller and Will Placke generated several turnovers for St. Joe’s, the St. Aloysius boys stayed on target, edging the Celtics, 23-22.

The prior weekend, this team ran the scoring gamut. Every player notched at least one basket in the team’s rematch against Our Lady of the Lake on Saturday, Feb. 1. Will Placke led the charge with six points, and fellow Celtics Kieran Lonieski and Blake Waller were close behind with four each. St. Joe’s played very strong defense, shutting out the visitors in the first half and allowing just three points in the second, despite a newly aggressive Lake offense. Although both teams were much-improved since their first outing, the Celtics’ deeper bench and larger size overall proved decisive advantages, leading to 27 points worth of baskets. The officials capped the final score at 21-3 in the team’s most-lopsided victory yet.