St. Joseph basketball teams give good efforts at Christmas tourney

Steven Copeland (30) shoots for the Celtics as Kieran Dawkins (3), Will Walsh (41), Riley Donohue (50) and Flynn Larson (25) go for the rebound.
Steven Copeland (30) shoots for the Celtics as Kieran Dawkins (3), Will Walsh (41), Riley Donohue (50) and Flynn Larson (25) go for the rebound.

MAPLEWOOD – The St. Joseph’s basketball teams enjoyed good efforts in the Christmas tournament hosted by St. Helen’s of Westfield.

3rd Grade boys

The St. Joseph’s Celtics 3rd grade boys team challenged themselves over the holiday break by participating in the annual Christmas basketball tournament hosted by St. Helen’s of Westfield.  

Perhaps because of their gaudy 5-0 record in league play, the Celtics were handed a tough three-game draw by tournament organizers, facing a formidable 4th grade team from Holy Trinity in Westfield, an AAU team comprised of local 3rd- and 4th-graders and their league rival St. Helen’s of Westfield in the tournament.  

While the Celtics fell in the first two games of the tournament against the older and bigger competition, they rebounded and applied lessons learned to defeat St. Helen’s in the tournament finale. In the first game against Holy Trinity, the 3rd grade Celtics’ excellent ball-handling and penetration kept them in the game until late in the contest.  Kieran Dawkins garnered game MVP honors, leading the way with 13 of the Celtics’ 25 points.  Flynn Larson (5), Thomas Campbell (4) and Steven Copeland also scored for the Celtics. Copeland garnered MVP honors in the second Celtics’ game as he battled inside all game against the size and power of the opponent. Copeland tallied 4 points and 8 rebounds for the game. Dawkins chipped in 4 points and Alex Szczepanski added 3 steals.  

In the victory against St. Helen’s, the Celtics used lockdown defense and their patented dribble-drive offense to register a 16-8 victory. Steven Copeland led the way with 8 points and 7 rebounds and Flynn Larson garnered game MVP honors, adding 6 points on several acrobatic drives to the basket. Kieran Dawkins registered one of his 3 assists when he found Will Walsh cutting to the hoop for a clutch basket in the second quarter that extended the Celtics’ lead. Riley Donohue played tough defense and had several rebounds and Luke Davenport distributed the ball nicely for the Celtics from his guard spot.

5th Grade Boys

The 5th Grade St. Joseph’s Green Team also entered the St. Helen’s Christmas tournament with the goal of defending their title from 2014.  

In their first game of the tournament, the Celtics played in one of the most exciting, well-played 5th grade basketball games of the year, falling in  double overtime to a talented and undefeated travel team from Green Brook.  

The Celtics trailed by 9 points with 2:40 remaining in the game before a furious rally, culminating in a Liam Laskowski layup with 5 seconds left, sent the game to overtime.  

In overtime, the Celtics trailed 41-39 with 2.5 seconds remaining with possession of the ball 92 feet away from their basket. In  a play reminiscent of Christian Laettner’s shot against Kentucky and Bryce Drew’s winner  against Ole Miss, Brendan Dawkins found Mike Pirone with a half-court baseball pass and Pirone brilliantly turned, took two dribbles and launched a runner that went in at the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime! Unfortunately for the Celtics, Green Brook’s outside shooting heated up in the second OT and the Celtics fell, 50-45. Mike Pirone took home game MVP honors tallying an amazing 24 points and 20 rebounds.  Guards Patrick Campbell (10  points), Liam Laskowski (4) and Brendan Dawkins (3) handled pressure defense all night, scored and got the ball inside to Pirone.

Nicholas Alexander added a key jumper in the second quarter and had 4 rebounds.  

The Celtics rallied after their lone defeat of the season to pick up two victories against teams from tourney host St. Helen’s in Westfield. In the second game, the Celtics used their full-court press to pull away and take home a hard-fought 27-22 victory. Game MVP honors went to Brendan Dawkins, who had 17 points, sinking several outside jumpers and driving the lane for three old-fashioned three-point plays.  

Mike Pirone added 7 points and 10 rebounds and John Pirone, a 4th-grader playing up for the tournament, added a basket. Danny Guarnieri sunk a free throw and added 3 rebounds. In the final game of the tournament, the Celtics again used pressure defense to hold off a talented opponent from St. Helen’s by a score of 23-19. WIlliam Walsman was awarded game MVP honors for his excellent defense (5 steals) and aggressive offensive play.

Brendan Dawkins had 16 points and

handled the ball most of the way at point guard against relentless pressure defense.  Mike Pirone added 3 points, 7 steals and 9 rebounds and his brother John sunk two key baskets down the stretch to preserve the

victory. Max Larson played guard and forward and contributed 2 steals and 3 rebounds and Miles Drayton spelled Dawkins at point guard when he wasn’t patrolling the lane at forward.