St. Joseph’s basketball teams show stellar defense during action last weekend

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Stellar defensive play highlighted last weekend’s CYO games for the St. Joseph’s basketball teams.

The JV White 5th grade boys improved to 4-0 with a convincing 39-23 victory over St. Joseph’s-Roselle. All seven available Celtics scored in the contest, led by Kieran Dawkins and Steven Copeland with 14 and 10 points, respectively. The story of the game was the Celtics’ unselfish play and excellent ball movement, which led to several uncontested baskets. Flynn Larson added 6 points, including a dazzling steal and driving layup. Jerry Browne, Luke Davenport and Harrison Zabik each made outstanding plays for the Celtics, including a beautiful no-look pass from Browne to Larson, an offensive rebound bucket by Davenport, and a sweet long jumper from Zabik. Will Walsh led the Celtics with a career-high 9 rebounds and scored on a nice back-door cut on an assist from Copeland.

The 6th Grade JV Girls team won at home Sunday 15-9 vs. OLP. The 4-0 Celtics took the lead early in the first quarter with two breakaway layups from Talia Baptiste and one basket and an assist from Summer Lonning. Hannah Straub and Rory Weldon locked down the offense, while Paloma Duvergne drove to the basket for a jump shot. Amelia Lisco and Megan Driscoll tightened the court and both stopped fast breaks in the final quarter. Catherine Holt pulled down 4 rebounds and 3 steals, Kate Driscoll had 2 rebounds and Emile Clitus had 2 rebounds and a steal. Baptiste finished up the night with 8 points, Lonning had 5 points and Duvergne 2.

JV Boys Red Meola got their first win of the season Saturday afternoon against St. John’s in front of a fun home crowd,  51-36. Grayson Thompson and John Wisniewski led the scoring with 12 apiece. John Pirone had 10, Henry Aaron contributed 9 and Cian O’Connor and Will Schlageter each had 4. Declan Cavanaugh played his invaluable utility role and caused multiple turnovers with her relentless defense. The game showcased great teamwork and passing and opened with a Pirone tipoff to Thompson, who drove for a layup. In the second quarter, Aaron passed to Wisniewski, who dribbled inside to draw the defense and then dished off to Thompson for another layup. In the third quarter, O’Connor stole the ball and made a quick pass to Wisniewski for a picture-perfect layup.

The Varsity White 7th grade boys picked up a key league win last weekend, holding off St. Helen’s, 34-33. Mike Pirone led the way with 17 points for the Celtics and Brendan Dawkins added 9 points, including a slick left-handed layup to give the Celtics the lead with 1 minute to play. Pirone and Dawkins each knocked down critical free throws to ice the game. Forwards Nicholas Alexander and Danny Guarnieri each added 4 points for the Celtics. Guards William Walsman, Liam Laskowski and Nicholas Franklin played excellent aggressive defense and forwards Max Larson and Owen Holt helped the Celtics control the backboards in the victory.

With only seven players, Keith Meyer’s Varsity St. Joe’s boys Blue team won their fourth straight game, defeating Our Lady of Peace by a score of 34-23. Connor Ward led all scorers with 15. Chibuikem Onyemaechi added 7, while Jerimiah Cook, Declan O’Connell and Callan Bauer each scored 4. Although neither scored, Malachy Meyer continued to show confidence at point guard and Sebastian Pappas again added quality minutes. “Our team was missing our two toughest defenders, Derek Mingmonghel and Charlie Giannone, but we played pretty well on defense,” said Meyer. “I was pleased with the rebounding today by Jerimiah, although he got in foul trouble. My biggest concern right now is our composure on offense, but we’ll focus on that in practice.”

Down by a score of 24-18 at the end of three periods, St. Joe’s 8th grade White Team rallied on their home court Sunday to win their first game, beating Holy Trinity of Westfield by a final score of 32-28. The fourth quarter comeback was accomplished when team leaders Buchi Amobi (7 points) and Alex Werbaneth (15) stepped up, each scoring 5 points. Also scoring in the fourth were Jude Michael and Gabriel Augustin. Javier Casella, Ryan Barrett and Nico Reyes each scored 2 to round out the scoring. “Point guards Kye Haniph and Nico Reyes showed poise and smarts, and I liked the effort displayed by Ryan Nnoli, and James Machado,” said coach Jurgens Bauer. “I’m proud of these boys; they had fun and played hard. They deserved this win; they earned it.”  

Assistant coach Joe Augustin added, “Our comeback was spurred by stellar defensive play and rebounding, but the key was the leadership shown by Buchi and Alex.”

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.