St. Joseph’s CYO Celtics basketball teams enjoy busy final January weekend

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The St. Joseph’s CYO Celtics basketball teams had a busy final January weekend.

The St. Joseph’s boys’ 4th grade team, under coach Chris Wack, won its third game in a row Saturday, Jan. 27, beating All Saints Academy, 13-11. Aiden Williams and Eric DeVomecourt led the team in scoring, while Josh Pieroni, Nathaniel Wack and Charlie Knutsen kept a tight defense. The 4th grade Celtics improved to 4-4.

The JV White 5th grade boys defeated St. Helen’s in Westfield on Sunday, Jan. 28, to move to 8 wins and 0 losses on the season. The Celtics built a first-half lead on several transition baskets by Flynn Larson and two gorgeous jumpers by Harrison Zabik.  But the opponent battled back and took the lead late in the third quarter. But the Celtics finished the game on a 9-2 run to come away with the victory. Kieran Dawkins led all scorers with 13 points, including a three-pointer during the fourth-quarter run. Flynn Larson tallied 8 points and 4 steals. Harrison Zabik’s 4 points, Will Walsh’s two points and Jerry Browne’s free throw rounded out the scoring for the undefeated Celtics. Steven Copeland led the Celtics with 8 rebounds.

The 6th Grade JV Girls team won on the road Sunday, Jan. 28, 23-12, versus St. Bartholomew’s of Scotch Plains. Wearing pink headbands in solidarity and support for a teammate, the Celtics took the lead early in the first quarter and never looked back. Moving the ball from side to side, Suzanna Knutsen and Paloma Duvergne were the first to hit jump shots from the outside. Talia Baptiste had a breakaway basket off an offensive tip from Summer Lonning to start the second quarter. Kate Driscoll and Rory Weldon locked down the offense, while Catherine Holt drove to the basket for a jump shot. Lonning, Amelia Lisco and Megan Driscoll tightened the court, stopping fast breaks from St. Bart’s offense in the final quarter. Ava Pickering closed the game from the line with a final basket for 1 point. Knutsen had 3 steals, Kate Driscoll had 3 rebounds and Emile Clitus had 2 rebounds and a steal. Baptiste finished up the night with 8 points, Lonning had 6 points, Holt and Duvergne 3 points, and Lisco and Pickering had 1 point.

In an intense overtime game, the St. Joe’s 6th grade boys team beat the previously-undefeated Holy Spirit team. The Celtics fans were awesome to have in the gym! Matthew Corr had 17 out of the team’s 38 points and several trips to the foul line. All the boys played well, resulting in a 38-35 final score.

The Varsity White 7th grade boys are surging at the right time. The Celtics picked up two big victories and have now won six straight league games, improving their record to 8 wins against 2 defeats. On Saturday, Jan. 27, the Celts knocked off previously-undefeated St. Joseph’s-Roselle by a score of 36-34. The opponent stormed out to an 8-0 lead, but the Celtics steadied themselves and the game was close throughout. Mike Pirone drained two deep, contested three-pointers in the last 90 seconds of the contest to put the Celtics on top.  Brendan Dawkins sunk a critical free throw and Nicholas Franklin sealed the win with a steal. Pirone led the way with 28 points for the Celtics. Dawkins, Franklin, Max Larson and Danny Guarnieri also scored.

On Sunday, Jan. 28, the Celtics won a tight contest against St. Joseph’s 8th Grade boys team.  Brendan Dawkins led all scorers with 18 points, including two 3-pointers in the decisive fourth quarter run. Pirone chipped in 16 points and 12 rebounds. Nicholas Alexander contributed 10 points and several steals. Nicholas Franklin was again a critical defensive specialist, adding 5 steals. Danny Guarnieri also converted an offensive rebound for a basket.  

Two St. Joe’s Celtic teams squared off in Maplewood on Sunday, Jan. 28, as the 7th grade boys white team defeated the 8th grade boys white team by a score of 46-37. At the half, the 8th graders led, 23-17, thanks to tenacious defense. The 7th graders answered back in the third with Michael Pirone scoring 8 of his 16 points. The 7th  graders pulled away to seal the victory in the fourth quarter with Brendan Dawkins hitting a pair of three-point shots to go along with his game-high 18. Nick Alexander added 10, while Danny Guarneri had 2.

Scoring for the 8th grade team was led by Alex Werbaneth, who had 15, Buchi Amobi added 8, Nico Reyes 6, Javier Casella 4, Gabriel Augustin and Jude Michael each had 2. Eighth Grade coach Jurgens Bauer mentioned, “I was pleasantly surprised with our good team effort in the first half. Yet, we seemed to lose energy and focus as the game got to crunch time.” Winning coach Greg Dawkins responded, “Let’s hope we don’t meet again until the championship game!”

JV Red Boys Meola had a busy weekend with two home games. On Saturday evening, Jan. 27, they had a fun win against St. Helen’s Edwards. After a first quarter with the score tied at 4, and up 8-6 at the half, the team came out strong on the second half and won, 36-24. John Pirone, John Wisniewski  and Grayson Thompson led the scoring with 13, 10 and 6 respectively. Henry Aaron, Will Spreeman, Will Schlageter and Cian O’Connor provided the rest. The Cavanaugh brothers, Conor and Declan, played tough at both ends of the court and fought all game under the boards. Justin DeVomecourt played tenacious defense and caused multiple turnovers. Thompson provided a dramatic finish as the first quarter ended with a gorgeous 10-footer. Pirone had a couple blocked shots, which elicited oohs and ahs from a crowded St. Joe’s gym. In the second quarter, Aaron battled for possession in the paint and then did a perfectly placed bounce pass for a Thompson layup.

On Sunday afternoon, Jan. 28, they lost a heartbreaker to Oak Knoll, 54-50. St Joe’s led almost the entire game and losing key possessions in the last minute proved insurmountable. Pirone was the high scorer with 21, John Wisniewski had 10 (including 2 threes) and Henry Aaron had 11, including 3 from the line. Will Schlageter and Cian O’Connor contributed 6 and 2 respectively.  Schlageter started the game with getting the tip-off and driving for a layup. At the end of the first, Wisniewski grabbed a rebound, turned and passed to Aaron for a layup at the buzzer. In the third quarter, Aaron, at the top of the key, had a laser bounce pass to Pirone right under the basket for a picture perfect layup. Grayson Thompson was a strong rebounder and fought hard for them at both ends of the court. Conor Cavanaugh, Declan Cavanaugh and Cian O’Connor combined for 7 assists. Will Spreeman and Justin DeVomecourt provided invaluable help on press breaks throughout the game.