MAPLEWOOD, NJ – St. Joseph’s CYO basketball teams started their playoffs this past weekend with many great games. The season will continue for the next few weeks to see who will reign champions.
To start, Casella’s 5th grade JV team took on Oak Knoll on Saturday and won a tight game. The Celtics were down the whole first half, but Lincoln Kessler drove to the baseline with 3 seconds left on the clock. He dished the ball to Simon Meade, who sank a ball at the buzzer to tie the game at the half. Simon also assisted with many rebounds during the course of the game. During the second half of the game, Riley Walsman, Alex Szczepanski, Jacob Mukalel and Lincoln all made baskets creating a 17-16 win. The team went on to face St. Helen’s on Sunday afternoon.
In an early Saturday morning home game, St. Joe’s Varsity 8th grade boys team defeated visiting St. Helen’s by a score of 64-55. In what was a close, back-and-forth contest throughout, St. Joe’s finally pulled away in the fourth quarter. The victory set up a rematch with the other St. Joe’s Varsity White team on Sunday.
Coach Jurgens Bauer credited Alex Werbaneth and Buchi Amobi. “Alex kept us in the game scoring 18 of his 20 points in the second and third, and Buchi brought us home in the fourth.” Amobi and Werbaneth led the scoring with 24 and 20 points respectively. “Buchi was clutch,” as he made 5 of 6 pressure free throws to close out the game.
“Our boys are great,” said Bauer. “They weren’t having a good day, but they somehow reached down deep and pulled together as a team.” Ryan Barrett and Kye Haniph each had 5, Nico Reyes and Jude Michael 4, while Javier Casella, Ryan Nnoli and Gabriel Augustin each added 2. James Machado also contributed to the victory.
The Junior Varsity 6th grade Meola lost to St. John’s Martel on Saturday afternoon at home 50-38. The team followed their season long pattern of a low-scoring first half followed by a strong second half but wasn’t able to ever take the lead. John Pirone was the high scorer with 14, followed by Henry Aaron with 9 points. Grayson Thompson had 6 points, including a beautiful 8-footer in the fourth quarter. John Wisniewski and Will Spreeman provided the rest of the scoring with 5 and 4 points respectively. Will Schlageter played his usual smart basketball and showed off his ability to read the opponent’s offense. He grabbed 7 rebounds. Justin DeVomecourt was relentless as always on defense and drove the St. John’s ball handlers nuts. Cian O’Connor provided multiple picks that freed up his teammates for open shots. Declan Cavanaugh worked hard at both ends of the court and fought for any loose ball that came his way. Conor Cavanaugh provided moral support and cheered for his teammates from the bench as he ended the season on the DL.