Photo 1: Flynn Larson shooting foul shot in 5th grade game. Photo courtesy of Kevin Larsen.
Photo 2: Josh Pieroni and the 4th Grade Boys Pee Wee team beat Holy Trinity at St. Joseph’s on Saturday, 20-4. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Wack.
Photo 3: Eddie Peterson coaching his 2nd Grade Girls in a strong first game of the season. Photo courtesy of Tara Connell.
MAPLEWOOD, NJ – For the St. Joseph’s basketball teams, the second weekend of the CYO season had many wins and key plays to highlight.
First, the 3rd grade boys team noted its first win on Saturday, Dec. 9, with a 13-8 victory at home against St. Agnes. After going to the locker room at halftime down 2 points, the Celtics broke out in the second half, paced by 4 points each from Gavin Lubomski and Fitz Chamberlin with great rebounding from Dylan Maguire. It was a great all-around defensive effort from St. Joseph, with Emmanuel Cook and Amsterdam Knox standing out with several steals.
The JV 5th grade Blue Boys had a slow start against Koinonia on Saturday but finished with strong defense and improved offense over the last three quarters, showing resilience despite the loss.
The team built on the momentum Sunday, Dec. 10, coming out the gate strong with clutch shooting by Alex Szcsepanski and Lincoln Kessler to help seal the win. Simon Meade was also key to the team’s success with key rebounding on the offensive end, keeping plays alive and defensively stopping the other team’s offense. It was a great team effort against a good Oak Knoll team.
The JV White 5th grade boys team picked up two league wins, improving its record to 3-0. On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Celtics trailed by 6 at halftime to St. James, but rallied in the second half to secure a 29-25 victory. St. Joe’s used its full-court pressure to force the opponent into mistakes and capitalized by scoring in transition. Kieran Dawkins thrilled the crowd with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter, extending the lead for the Celtics.
Dawkins led the way with 11 points and Jerry Browne added 8, including a highlight-reel worthy layup on a fast break in the fourth quarter. Flynn Larson added 5 points, Chris Severe had 3 and Harrison Zabik swished a beautiful jumper to round out the Celtics’ scoring. Steven Copeland and Will Walsh led the team with 8 and 4 rebounds respectively, and Colby Twyman contributed 3 steals.
On Sunday, Dec. 10, the JV White 5th grade boys picked up their second win of the weekend and third of the season, defeating Holy Trinity, 21-12. Seven Celtics scored, including Kieran Dawkins and Flynn Larson. Luke Davenport, Jerry Browne, Steven Copeland and Chris Severe each added a basket and Harrison Zabik added a free throw. Luke Davenport used his quickness to steal a pass and sprinted to the basket to convert a fast-break layup opportunity. Flynn Larson sunk a pull-up jumper while being fouled, and a running baseline shot. Jerry Browne scored on a nifty move on a pick-and-roll while Dawkins and Browne also found Steven Copeland under the basket for his 2 points. Will Walsh had 5 rebounds and 2 steals for the Celtics in the victory.
The 7th grade Black squad defeated St. Bartholomew of Scotch Plains, 31-24 on Saturday, Dec. 9, with everyone scoring. Jerimiah Cook led with 9 points, while Callan Bauer added 7, with Charlie Giannone and Chibuikem Onyemaechi adding 5 and 4 respectively. Sebastian Pappas, Declan O’Connell and Malachy Meyers each added 2 to round out the scoring. Coach Meyer said regarding the victory, “Our boys played well, but most importantly they played as a team.”
Assistant Coach Jay O’Connell added, “It is truly rewarding to see the progress these boys have made. They showed patience, tenacity and skill, but mostly they had fun.”
On Sunday evening, Dec. 10, Keith Meyer’s Varsity Blue squad improved its record to 3-0, beating St. Helen’s 29-24 in a competitive game. Jerimiah Cook led St. Joe’s by scoring 10 points, Charlie Giannone had 8 (along with numerous steals), and Chibuikem Onyemaechi added 7 points. Point guards Callan Bauer and Malachy Meyer distributed the ball neatly, each scoring 2 points. Cook and Giannone dominated the boards on both ends. Second-year teammate Derek Mingmonghel played his usual tight defense, shutting down their opponent’s best player, while veteran players Declan O’Connell and Sebastian Pappas contributed on both ends with quality minutes. Pleased with the victory, Coach Meyer was cautious. “Our shot selection wasn’t always sharp and our shooting percentage very poor. It’s nice to get a win, but these boys need to learn to put the ball in the bucket.”
Assistant Coach Jurgens Bauer added, “It’s great to see that our boys have increased their basketball IQ’s. They clearly show more confidence on the court, but now they need to work at developing their shooting touch.”
The 6th grade Girls JV White team returned home this weekend with back-to-back wins on both Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9-10.
The Celtics secured an impressive 31-18 win on Saturday over St. James of Springfield. The team fell behind early with a score of 7-0. But they quickly tightened their defense with strong steals and assists from Paloma Duvergne, Rory Weldon and Susanna Knutsen to tie the first half 9-9. Overall, the Celtics had an impressive eight different girls with points on the board. Talia Baptiste led the night with 11 points, finishing the last 8 minutes with an eight-point run, and Emile Clitus was a defining force under the basket with 6 points. Amelia Lisco and Ava Pickering created quick strong drives to the basket with 4 points respectfully. Hannah Straub, Susanna Knutsen, and Catherine Holt each had 2 points.
On Sunday, Dec. 10, the Celtics closed out the weekend with a 19-4 win over St. John’s of Clark. Summer Lonning returned from an illness to score a quick 6 points, while Talia Baptiste secured 7 points. Megan Driscoll had two key steals on defense and Emile Clitus and Hannah Straub finished with quick jump shots. Paloma Duvergne, Rory Weldon and Kate Driscoll continued to shut down the offense, and Amelia Lisco drained a deep shot just inches shy of a 3-pointer in the final quarter.
The Varsity 7th Grade White team dropped a tough contest to Our Lady of Peace on Sunday. Trailing by a wide margin early in the game, the Celtics turned up their defensive intensity to make the game competitive in the fourth quarter. Brendan Dawkins led the Celtics with 13 points, including two 3-pointers. William Walsman added a driving layup and Danny Guarnieri sunk a key fourth quarter free throw. Owen Holt had 2 steals and 5 rebounds and Nicholas Alexander added 3 rebounds. Liam Laskowski and Nicholas Franklin combined for 4 steals, all in the second half. Max Larson added 3 rebounds and a steal for the Celtics.
On Sunday, Dec. 10, the JV Girls Black team continued its winning ways with a convincing 28-8 home win against Koinonia Academy. The Celtics got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 12-0 lead behind big baskets from Katie Callahan, Izzy Knox, and Alayna Agnis and with aggressive defense from Campbell Connell, Alison Leibensperger, and Zoe MacWhannell. Caitlin Canal and Rebecca Noll owned the boards, limiting Koinonia to a single shot each possession. The Celtics return to action on Sunday, Dec. 17 to play an away game against Holy Spirit.
The JV Boys Red had a tough weekend, losing two away games with a total of four points. On the snowy Saturday evening, the team matched up against Holy Trinity in Westfield. With only five players available for the game, everyone contributed and battled to a 44-43 loss. John Pirone was high scorer with 14 followed closely by John Wisniewski with 12 and Henry Aaron with 10. Will Schlageter and Grayson Thompson combined for 7. Thompson was a monster under the boards and grabbed 14 rebounds. Highlights of the game were a steal by Wisniewski at midcourt, followed by a picture-perfect layup and a Pirone steal passed off to Aaron, who executed a beautiful finger tip roll layup.
Sunday afternoon the team had an away game at Oak Knoll which ended in an overtime loss, 48-45. The five players from Saturday were bolstered by Declan Cavanaugh and Cian O’Connor. The team battled all game and showed off some great press breaking skills. Henry Aaron, Will Schlageter, and John Wisniewski showcased great ball-handling. Pirone was a master on offense with 24 points. Wisniewski had a magical at-the-buzzer 3-pointer that tied the game to go into overtime. Thompson led the team again in rebounds with 10. Highlights of the game were Thompson in the third quarter, stealing the ball under the other team’s basket and driving the length of the court for a layup, and then Aaron stealing the ball from the opposing guard and dishing it off to Pirone for a layup.
St. Joseph’s CYO Basketball is a shared parish ministry for the parishioners of St. Joseph’s Parish in Maplewood and Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange, the program has 22 teams for girls and boys from Grades 2 to 12.