St. Joseph hoop season winds down with fine play

MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE – On Feb. 13 and 14, the St. Joseph’s Pee Wee Girls Celtics split their final two basketball games of the regular season, winning at home against St. Helen’s by a score of 20-8 and losing to a different St. Helen’s squad 12-8. In the two games, the Celtics played stifling interior defense led by Stephanie James, Catherine Holt, Paloma Duvergne, and Fiona McGowan, and scrappy perimeter defense by Peyton Hollis, Campbell Connell, and Katie Callahan. Talia Baptiste, Aliyah St. Vil, and Alison Leibensperger carried the ball-handling responsibilities and controlled the games. Leading scorers were Summer Lonning and Zahra Alexander.

The Celtics finished a successful regular season with a record of 9-3.

The Third Grade Celtics boys’ team completed its quest for an undefeated regular season in convincing fashion on Saturday, Feb. 13, defeating St. Agnes by a score of 24-6.  The game was never in doubt as the Celtics stormed out to an 11-2 halftime lead. Steven Copeland led the way for the Celtics with a career-high 10 points to go along with 7 rebounds. Guards Flynn Larson and Kieran Dawkins contributed 8 and 4 points. The play of the game featured superior passing and player movement from the Celtics, resulting in Flynn Larson firing a pass inside to Justin Connell, who made the layup to round out the Celtics’ scoring in the fourth quarter. The Celtics finished the regular season with a 12-0 record and earned a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The Third Grade Celtics moved one step closer to a perfect season on Sunday, defeating St. Agnes in impressive fashion in the playoff semifinals by a score of 22-7.  Kieran Dawkins scored shortly after the opening tip on a coast-to-coast drive to the basket and the Celtics never looked back. The Celtics’ relentless defense held the opponent to one basket in the first half as Thomas Campbell and Steven Copeland created turnovers and transition scoring opportunities with several steals and rebounds. The Celtics’ lead ballooned to 10 points at halftime as Flynn Larson scored twice on whirling drives in the lane and Harrison Zabik converted two offensive rebounds into baskets with sweet jumpers from the wing.

Jerry Browne was a force all game long and added 6 points from his forward spot, aggressively rebounding and converting his sweet jump shot into points.  Dawkins and Larson each totaled 6  points as well and Harrison Zabik’s 4 points rounded out the Celtics’ balanced scoring effort. Steven Copeland had 8 rebounds and Thomas Campbell had 3 assists.  Luke Davenport played stellar defense and Will Walsh, Timothy Van de North and Justin Connell controlled the paint as a tandem at power forward and center. Alex Szczepanski and Riley Donohue combined for 3 steals, splitting time at guard and forward.

The Third Grade Celtics face St. Helen’s on Sunday, March 6, at Dayton High School in Springfield in their final obstacle on their quest for a perfect season and a league championship.

On Feb. 14, the Pee Wee Red Fourth Grade boys lost a tough one to Holy Trinity, 41-23, and finished out the regular season with a 5-7 record. Henry Aaron was the team’s high scorer, finishing the game with 10 points, 2 of which were foul shots. It was truly a team effort with John Pirone, Will Spreeman, Justin DeVomecourt, Ian Webber, Liam Haley and Lukas  Alexander contributing the rest of the points. The team was strong on the boards, with Spreeman, Pirone, DeVomecourt, Haley and Declan Cavanaugh combining for 26. Aaron Budd played his usual tough defense and caused multiple turnovers.

In the first round of the playoffs, the Pee Wee Fourth Grade boys played strong and came away with a 23-10 win against St. Helen’s on Saturday afternoon. Ian Webber had the play of the game, in the second quarter, as he stole the ball from the St. Helen’s offense and drove the length of the court to nail a 6-foot jumper. Webber contributed two more points. The rest of the scoring was John Pirone with 10 and Henry Aaron with 9. Will Spreeman and Pirone were tough on the boards with 9 rebounds between them. St. Joe’s played relentless defense and had about a dozen steals, with Justin DeVomecourt, Webber, Pirone, Aaron, Liam Haley and Declan Cavanaugh all contributing. Lukas Alexander and Aaron Budd showed their ball-handling expertise as they shared point-guard duty with Henry Aaron.

The Pee Wee Fourth Grade boys finished the season with a loss in the semifinals, 37-23, to an undefeated All Saints team.  It was only the third game this year that the full squad was available to play which made it a fun game for all.  Henry Aaron was the team’s high scorer with 6. Aaron’s skills at point came in handy against a tough All Saints defense. John Pirone had 5 points, including 3 from the line and grabbed 4 rebounds. Will Spreeman and Liam Haley both had great games, each contributing 4 points and 3 rebounds. Cian O’Connor and Declan Cavanaugh each had a foul shot and Lukas Alexander had a bucket. Ian Webber and Aaron Budd created opportunities on offense and their tough defense caused a strong All Saints offense to turn the ball over multiple times. Justin DeVomecourt played with his usual tough defense and was constantly battling for position and grabbed four rebounds.

The JV 5 Boys Green Celtics team played three thrilling games over the Feb. 13-14 holiday weekend in the quest to secure a regular-season championship and a playoff bye. On Friday night, the Celtics squared off against their friends and neighbors from the St. Joseph’s JV 6 Boys team. The older Celtics surged to a halftime lead of 11-9 behind a balanced scoring effort and a dominating presence on the backboards led by Damian Cataneo and Buchi Amobe.  However, the JV 5 boys had a strong second half and came away with an exciting 36-28 victory. Brendan Dawkins led the way for the fifth- graders with 18 points and Mike Pirone added 10.  Nicholas Alexander, Max Larson and William Walsman each added baskets in thesecond  half run for the JV 5 boys.  Nico Reyes and Nick Lorenzo combined for 13 points for the JV 6 Boys.

On Saturday, the Celtics faced St. Agnes with an opportunity to avenge one of their two regular-season losses. The Celtics wasted no time, jumping out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter behind 8 points from Brendan Dawkins. The Celtics’ 9-point halftime lead was cut to 2 during the third quarter when St. Agnes made a push, but a huge fourth quarter allowed the Celtics to pull away for a 30-21 victory. Dawkins and Pirone were again a monster inside-outside combination, compiling 15 and 11 points, respectively. Nicholas Alexander and Miles Drayton each added key buckets for the Celtics.

The Friday and Saturday victories improved the JV Celtics record to 9-2 and set up a regular-season finale on Sunday night against Holy Trinity, which also held a record of 9-2. Holy Trinity rode the hot first-half outside shooting to build a 14-point lead early in the third quarter, but the Celtics didn’t relent. Once again turning to their trademark full-court press, the Celtics stormed back into the game. The Celtics converted numerous turnovers into points and their aggressive penetration and offensive rebounding led to multiple free throw opportunities. However, Holy Trinity was able to hold off the furious Celtics rally to emerge with a hard-fought 25-24 victory. Mike Pirone fought constant double-teams to lead the Celtics with 7 points and 11 rebounds and guards Brendan Dawkins and Patrick Campbell added 6 and 5 points respectively while also sharing ball-handling responsibility. Miles Drayton sank a key early jumper to keep the Celtics in the game and Liam Laskowski and Max Larson added key second-half baskets to fuel the Celtics’ comeback. Nicholas Franklin was a dynamo on the defensive end before leaving the game with an injury, and William Walsman, Owen Holt and Nicholas Alexander each made strong defensive contributions helping to hold the opponent well below their scoring average.

The narrow defeat dropped the Celtics into a tie for second place heading into the playoffs. However, the Celtics have registered victories over each team in the league this season, so they were set to enter the playoffs confident in their ability to bring home a championship.

St. Joseph’s CYO is a shared parish ministry for the Catholic parishioners of Our Lady of  Sorrows in South Orange and South Joseph’s in Maplewood.  St. Joseph’s has 18 teams for girls  and boys in Grades 2-12.

Editor’s note: To read the rest of this article, visit www.essexnewsdaily.com.

 

On Sunday Feb. 21, the St. Joseph’s Fifth Grade boys squared off against St. John’s of Clark in a quarterfinal playoff matchup.  The previous meeting between these teams was an overtime thriller that resulted in a Celtics win so the visitors from St. John’s were looking to avenge their season-opening loss.  And, St. John’s wasted no time storming out to an 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, scoring on a mix of outside jumpers and low post moves. Early baskets by Brendan Dawkins and Danny Guarnieri on a nice feed from Patrick Campbell kept the Celtics within striking distance.  In the second quarter, William Walsman sunk a clutch free throw and Mike Pirone added 3 points as the Celtics cut the deficit to 5 at the half.  Danny Guarnieri added a huge blocked shot right at the halftime buzzer to keep the deficit to 5 points. Also key in the second quarter was the constant ball pressure applied by guards Liam Laskowski and Nicholas Franklin who slowed the opponent and registered several steals.

As they have done all season, the Celtics turned to their full-court pressure in the second half and overwhelmed St. John’s, outscoring them 18-4 after the intermission.  Brendan Dawkins converted an old-fashioned 3-point play shortly after the half to tie the game and the Celtics never looked back.  Key to the effort was Mike Pirone’s aggressive rebounding and defense.  Pirone tallied 9 points, 11 rebounds and 5 steals. Patrick Campbell expertly handled St. John’s full court pressure and led the way with 4 assists for the Celtics.  Other scorers included Brendan Dawkins (9), William Walsman (3), Nicholas Alexander (3) and Danny Guarnieri (2).  Nicholas Alexander, Miles Drayton and Max Larson shared time at forward and grabbed 10 rebounds while also playing excellent defense. The 26-17 victory advanced the Celtics to the semi-finals.

The Fifth Grade Green team traveled to Clark on Sunday afternoon to take on the higher-seeded boys team from St. Agnes. The teams split their regular season match-ups so the playoff contest figured to be a thriller.  The teams did not disappoint with both teams playing at a high level.  In a game of runs, the Celtics prevailed by a score of 27-21.

In the first half, the Celtics built a 12-7 halftime lead using aggressive defense to force turnovers and create scoring chances.  Nicholas Franklin, William Walsman and Liam Laskowski took turns harassing the opponent’s star player holding him well below his scoring average.  The Celtics first-half points were all scored by Mike Pirone who had 7 of his game-high 13 points and Patrick Campbell who added 5 of his 7 points on two gorgeous jump shots and a free throw.  Brendan Dawkins made the defense pay for the extra attention they paid to him by registering 5 assists, consistently finding the open man, who was often Mike Pirone either in the low post or cutting to the basket in transition.

The Celtics stretched their lead to 8 points after the break on a free throw from Max Larson and 2 free throws from Dawkins, but St. Agnes rallied to tie the game at 15.  However, the Celtics depth, balanced offense and unselfish play wore down the opponent.  Miles Drayton drained two long jumpers on assists from Patrick Campbell and Campbell added a gorgeous step back 17-footer.  Dawkins again found Pirone in transition and the Celtics had built their lead back to 8 points.  St. Agnes never got closer than 8 again until a basket at the final buzzer cut the margin to 6 points.

Danny Guarnieri, Nicholas Alexander and Owen Holt were key contributors at forward, adding 7 rebounds and 2 steals for the Celtics.  The Celtics advance to the league championship game for the first time and will face Holy Trinity.  The teams split their previous meetings in two tightly-contested battles both played during the last 3 weeks.  With a championship on the line, the two best teams in the league will face off on Saturday, March 5 at Union Catholic.

The St. Joe’s Fifth Grade White Celtics team finished the regular season strong with three straight victories and a record of eight wins and four losses. The team dominated All Saints of Bayonne 25-9 and then they defeated arch-rival St. Helen’s of Westfield 29-18 and 32-19.

Sean Kagel and Sebastian Pappas helped the squad grab the lead Saints by swishing and banking long-range shots. Chibuikem “Chiboy” Onyemaechi was all over  the court, diving for loose balls. Derek Mingmongkol nailed a jump shot to extend the St. Joe’s lead heading into half-time. The team’s defense was stellar from the opening tip-off as the team coasted to victory. Connor Ward, who had missed much of the season with a broken wrist, put on dribbling exhibitions in each game. And, his scoring touch came back as he scored 16 points against St. Helen’s in the two victories. The team showed its athleticism against St. Helen’s, employing a full-court press. With Albert Konado and Malachy Meyer hounding the opposing guards, St. Joe’s shut down their rivals while scoring many fast-break points. Veterans Callan Bauer and Jeremiah Cook filled the lanes as the games became lay-up drills.

Conor Kagel did a fine job, filling in for the missing center Charlie Giannone in two of the games. Declan O’Connell had great effort on the boards in all three games.

St Joseph Celtics’ Sixth Grade boys team advanced to the playoff championship game by winning their semifinal game on Sunday Feb. 28 against the tenacious team from St Theresa 27-13. The Celtics were led by Nick Lorenzo’s stellar defense. Not only did Nick neutralized St Theresa’s sharpshooter early in the game but made numerous steals in the second half that transitioned into easy baskets that led to a team-high ten points. Key contributions were also made by Damian Cataneo with six points and several offensive rebounds. The Celtics dominated the paint with Alexander Werbaneth, Ryan Barrett, Alex Iozzio, and Buchi Amino providing stellar interior defense and outstanding rebounding. Meanwhile, Ryan Nnoli and Alejandro Lorenzo added key points to the team’s winning effort. The Celtics’ court generals Kye Haniph and Nico Reyes effectively navigated the team’s half-court offense with deft passing and intelligent decision-making. Advancing to the championship game is a tremendous accomplishment by these boys considering they only won one game last season.

St. Joseph’s JV Girls White division team finished the regular season with an exciting 13-7 victory over St. James.  Great ball movement and passing by Katie O’Mara, Maggie Callahan and Sophia Franklin helped create open shots.  Evelyn Calabrese, Leah Connell and Neve McGowan were able to take advantage of the open looks to knock down jump shots and lay-ups. The St. Joseph’s defense was led by Jamie Fardin who used great foot work to limit dribble penetration and prevented many fast break opportunities for St. James. Celtics interior defense and rebounding was very strong as Mia Hankey and Kathleen Mack controlled the boards and kept the ball out of the paint.  It was a fun and exciting season for the Celtics JV girls white team.  The team finished with a modest 6-6 record and will be ready to put all they learned this season into a strong playoff run.

The Seventh/Eighth Grade Varsity Girls ended their regular season Saturday Feb. 13 with a win over OPL of New Providence by a score of 26-11. The team finished the regular season with 10 wins and 2 losses.

The Varsity Seventh/Eighth Grade girls will head to the championship game next Sunday at HS in Scotch Plains. The girls defeated St. Geneieve, on Saturday by one point in what was probably their best game of the season. Down 7- 0 in the first quarter, the girls came into half, down one with a score of 11-10. The second half press efforts of guards Annabel Callahan, Cece Clark, and Kate Meyers proved to be the deciding factor that allowed St. Joe’s to dominate in the second half.  Lily Ramos lead the scoring efforts with 6 points. Baskets by Sophia Rounsaville, Callahan, Meyers, Ellie Clarke and Molly Gray added to the win. The girls will face All Saints next Sunday for the Championship.

The Saint Joseph Seventh Grade boys won a hard fought battle against St. Helen’s of Westfield in the semifinals of the CYO tournament — winning in OT by a score of 39-35. Colin Williams and Derrick Baptiste led the Celtics; with Williams grabbing nine rebounds and scoring eight points; including a three-pointer with time expiring to tie the score in regulation. Baptiste scored nine points, had five rebounds and was a force in the Celtics full court press in the second half; tallying nine steals. Harry Fardin also had a big game, contributing nine points to the Celtic scoring total. Nicholas Aaron, Matt Morales and Perry Reyes each contributed four points and Cole Latimer dropped in a free throw to round out the Celtic scoring. The Seventh  grade boys will compete this coming weekend for the league championship.

St. Joseph’s CYO is a shared parish ministry for the Catholic parishioners of Our Lady of  Sorrows in South Orange and South Joseph’s in Maplewood.  St. Joseph’s has 18 teams for girls  and boys in Grades 2-12.

 

On Sunday Feb. 21, the St. Joseph’s Fifth Grade boys squared off against St. John’s of Clark in a quarterfinal playoff matchup.  The previous meeting between these teams was an overtime thriller that resulted in a Celtics’ win so the visitors from St. John’s were looking to avenge their season-opening loss.  And, St. John’s wasted no time storming out to an 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, scoring on a mix of outside jumpers and low-post moves. Early baskets by Brendan Dawkins and Danny Guarnieri on a nice feed from Patrick Campbell kept the Celtics within striking distance.  In the second quarter, William Walsman sunk a clutch free throw and Mike Pirone added 3 points as the Celtics cut the deficit to 5 at the half.  Danny Guarnieri added a huge blocked shot right at the halftime buzzer to keep the deficit to 5 points. Also key in the second quarter was the constant ball pressure applied by guards Liam Laskowski and Nicholas Franklin, who slowed the opponent and registered several steals.

As they have done all season, the Celtics turned to their full-court pressure in the second half and overwhelmed St. John’s, outscoring them 18-4 after the intermission. Brendan Dawkins converted an old-fashioned 3-point play shortly after the half to tie the game and the Celtics never looked back. Key to the effort was Mike Pirone’s aggressive rebounding and defense.  Pirone tallied 9 points, 11 rebounds and 5 steals. Patrick Campbell expertly handled St. John’s full-court pressure and led the way with 4 assists for the Celtics. Other scorers included Brendan Dawkins (9), William Walsman (3), Nicholas Alexander (3) and Danny Guarnieri (2).  Nicholas Alexander, Miles Drayton and Max Larson shared time at forward and grabbed 10 rebounds while also playing excellent defense. The 26-17 victory advanced the Celtics to the semifinals.

The Fifth Grade Green team traveled to Clark on Sunday afternoon to take on the higher-seeded boys’ team from St. Agnes. The teams split their regular season matchups, so the playoff contest figured to be a thriller. The teams did not disappoint with both teams playing at a high level. In a game of runs, the Celtics prevailed by a score of 27-21.

In the first half, the Celtics built a 12-7 halftime lead, using aggressive defense to force turnovers and create scoring chances. Nicholas Franklin, William Walsman and Liam Laskowski took turns harassing the opponent’s star player, holding him well below his scoring average. The Celtics’ first-half points were all scored by Mike Pirone, who had 7 of his game-high 13 points, and Patrick Campbell, who added 5 of his 7 points on two gorgeous jump shots and a free throw. Brendan Dawkins made the defense pay for the extra attention they paid to him by registering 5 assists, consistently finding the open man, who was often Mike Pirone either in the low post or cutting to the basket in transition.

The Celtics stretched their lead to 8 points after the break on a free throw from Max Larson and two free throws from Dawkins, but St. Agnes rallied to tie the game at 15.  However, the Celtics’ depth, balanced offense and unselfish play wore down the opponent.  Miles Drayton drained two long jumpers on assists from Patrick Campbell, who added a gorgeous step back 17-footer.  Dawkins again found Pirone in transition and the Celtics had built their lead back to 8 points.  St. Agnes never got closer than 8 again until a basket at the final buzzer cut the margin to 6 points.

Danny Guarnieri, Nicholas Alexander and Owen Holt were key contributors at forward, adding 7 rebounds and 2 steals for the Celtics. The Celtics advance to the league championship game for the first time and will face Holy Trinity. The teams split their previous meetings in two tightly-contested battles both played during the last three weeks.  With a championship on the line, the two best teams in the league will face off on Saturday, March 5 at Union Catholic.

The St. Joe’s Fifth Grade White Celtics team finished the regular season strong with three straight victories and a record of eight wins and four losses. The team dominated All Saints of Bayonne, 25-9, and then they defeated arch rival St. Helen’s of Westfield, 29-18 and 32-19.

Sean Kagel and Sebastian Pappas helped the squad grab the lead in the first quarter against All

 

Saints by swishing and banking long-range. Chibuikem “Chiboy” Onyemaechi was all over  the court, diving for loose balls. Derek Mingmongkol nailed a jump shot to extend the St. Joe’s lead heading into halftime. The team’s defense was stellar from the opening tip-off as the team coasted to victory. Connor Ward, who had missed much of the season with a broken wrist, put on dribbling exhibitions in each game. And his scoring touch came back as he scored 16 points against St. Helen’s in the two victories. The team showed its athleticism against St. Helen’s, employing a full-court press. With Albert Konado and Malachy Meyer hounding the opposing guards, St. Joe’s shut down their rivals while scoring many fast-break points. Veterans Callan Bauer and Jeremiah Cook filled the lanes as the games became lay-up drills.

Conor Kagel did a fine job, filling in for the missing center Charlie Giannone in two of the games. Declan O’Connell had great effort on the boards in all three games.

The Celtics’ Sixth Grade boys team advanced to the playoff championship game by winning the semifinal game on Sunday Feb. 28 against the tenacious team from St Theresa, 27-13. The Celtics were led by Nick Lorenzo’s stellar defense. Not only did Nick neutralized St Theresa’s sharpshooter early in the game but made numerous steals in the second half that transitioned into easy baskets that led to a team-high 10 points. Key contributions were also made by Damian Cataneo with six points and several offensive rebounds. The Celtics dominated the paint with Alexander Werbaneth, Ryan Barrett, Alex Iozzio, and Buchi Amino providing stellar interior defense and outstanding rebounding. Meanwhile, Ryan Nnoli and Alejandro Lorenzo added key points to the team’s winning effort. The Celtics’ court generals Kye Haniph and Nico Reyes effectively navigated the team’s half-court offense with deft passing and intelligent decision-making. Advancing to the championship game is a tremendous accomplishment by these boys considering they only won one game last season.

The St. Joseph’s JV Girls White division team finished the regular season with an exciting 13-7 victory over St. James. Great ball movement and passing by Katie O’Mara, Maggie Callahan and Sophia Franklin helped create open shots. Evelyn Calabrese, Leah Connell and Neve McGowan were able to take advantage of the open looks to knock down jump shots and lay-ups The St. Joseph’s defense was led by Jamie Fardin who used great footwork to limit dribble penetration and prevented many fast-break opportunities for St. James. The Celtics’ interior defense and rebounding was very strong as Mia Hankey and Kathleen Mack controlled the boards and kept the ball out of the paint.  It was a fun and exciting season for the Celtics JV girls White team.  The team finished with a modest 6-6 record and will be ready to put all they learned this season into a strong playoff run.

The Seventh/Eighth Grade Varsity Girls ended their regular season Saturday Feb. 13 with a win over OPL of New Providence by a score of 26-11. The team finished the regular season with 10 wins and 2 losses.

The Varsity Seventh/Eighth Grade girls will head to the championship game next Sunday at HS in Scotch Plains. The girls defeated St. Geneieve, on Saturday by one point in what was probably their best game of the season. Down 7- 0 in the first quarter, the girls came into half, down one with a score of 11-10. The second half press efforts of guards Annabel Callahan, Cece Clark, and Kate Meyers proved to be the deciding factor that allowed St. Joe’s to dominate in the second half.  Lily Ramos led the scoring efforts with 6 points. Baskets by Sophia Rounsaville, Callahan, Meyers, Ellie Clarke and Molly Gray added to the win. The girls will face All Saints next Sunday for the Championship.

The Saint Joseph Seventh Grade boys won a hard fought battle against St. Helen’s of Westfield in the semifinals of the CYO tournament — winning in overtime by a score of 39-35. Colin Williams and Derrick Baptiste led the Celtics; with Williams grabbing nine rebounds and scoring eight points; including a three-pointer with time expiring to tie the score in regulation. Baptiste scored nine points, had five rebounds and was a force in the Celtics’ full-court press in the second half; tallying nine steals. Harry Fardin also had a big game, contributing nine points to the Celtics’ scoring total. Nicholas Aaron, Matt Morales and Perry Reyes each contributed four points and Cole Latimer dropped in a free throw to round out the Celtics’ scoring. The Seventh Grade boys will compete this coming weekend for the league championship.

St. Joseph’s CYO is a shared parish ministry for the Catholic parishioners of Our Lady of  Sorrows in South Orange and South Joseph’s in Maplewood.  St. Joseph’s has 18 teams for girls  and boys in Grades 2-12.

 

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