Hoop Dreams Begin Again: CYO Basketball Season Opens at St. Joseph

by The Village Green
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In Sunday’s home opener, the 4th Grade Boys Red team shows the great passing and teamwork that got them their first win. Declan Cavanaugh (54) passes to Will Spreeman (0) as John Pirone (23) and Ian Webber (14) prepare to spring into action.

In Sunday’s home opener, the 4th Grade Boys Red team shows the great passing and teamwork that got them their first win. Declan Cavanaugh (54) passes to Will Spreeman (0) as John Pirone (23) and Ian Webber (14) prepare to spring into action.

The St. Joseph CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) Basketball season opened the weekend of December 5-6 with a host of teams at home and on the road in grades 3 through high school.

The 3rd grade boys’ team began their season with an exciting victory over Holy Trinity in Westfield. After falling behind early in the game, Thomas Campbell and Flynn Larson helped give the Celtics a 2nd quarter lead they would not relinquish with several key steals and fast break baskets. Steven Copeland blocked 5 shots and Alex Sczepanski contributed 4 steals for the Celtics. Kieran Dawkins led all scorers with 8 points and Larson (5) and Campbell (2) rounded out the scoring in the Celtics 15-10 road victory.

The 4th Grade Girls won their season opening game on the road 14-6 versus St. Helen’s (Cadigan).   After working through some early, first game jitters, the Celtics intensified the defense, led by Katie Callahan, Paloma Duvergne and Peyton Hollis, holding St. Helen’s scoreless over the middle two quarters.     Leading scorers for the Celtics were Zahra Alexander (8 pts) and Summer Lonning (4 points).

On December 6, the Celtics got better and better each quarter winning 25-10 over Holy Trinity School (Price) on their home court, as the Celtics erupted for 17 second half points. High point scorers were Summer Lonning (10 points) and Talia Baptiste (8 points). Fierce defense and rebounding of Fiona McGowan and Catherine Holt led the way for the Celtics.

The 4th Grade Boys Red opened up the season with a Friday friendly scrimmage against the St. Joe’s third grade team.  It was a fun game for both sides as everyone was able to put their skills that had been honed in practices for the last few weeks into a game situation. (Scores and stats were not kept)

The team opened the season on Saturday afternoon at Holy Trinity in Westfield and lost a hard fought contest 24 -21. The Celtics went into halftime 11-6,  due to the shooting skills of John Pirone who had 4 first half points, Henry Aaron who had three, and Will Spreeman and Aaron Budd each with two. The tough defense of Liam Haley, Ian Webber, Declan Cavanaugh and Justin DeVomecourt allowed no scoring in the second quarter. The teams were evenly matched in the third quarter, each scoring 6 points; Pirone had 4 and Aaron had 2. The fourth quarter was a rough one for the Celtics. In a valiant effort, Pirone scored another four, but HT hit a groove and scored 12. Pirone, Spreeman, Aaron and DeVomecourt were strong on the boards, with 7, 4, 3 and 3 respectively.

The second game of the weekend was the Celtics home opener against St. Joseph’s Roselle resulting in a 21-6 victory. The team took the lessons learned from the day before and played hard and smart for four quarters. The team went into half time up 10-6, but then shut down the opposition’s offense completely for the second half. Ian Webber had the game of his career, six points, a rebound and two steals, and was relentless on defense. John Pirone had a team-high seven points, Henry Aaron had five (three of which came from the line) and Will Spreeman tossed in a free throw and a field goal.  Declan Cavanaugh, Justin DeVomecourt and Liam Haley were strong on the boards at both ends of the court. Cian O’Connor and Aaron Budd were tough on defense causing multiple turnovers.

The St. Joe’s 5th Grade Boys White team started off the season with a thrilling, come from behind 17-13 victory over St. James of Springfield on Saturday. Callan Bauer (8 points) and Jeremiah Cook (6 points) were the leading scorers. Charlie Giannone, Conor Kagel and Sean Kagel played tough defense and dominated the defensive boards.

The team was down at half time, but unleashed a ferocious full-court press in the third quarter led by Albert Konado and Malachy Meyer. Newcomer Chibuikem “Chiboy” Onyemaechi had a great first game while veteran Sebastian Pappas was a steadying influence at both ends of the court.

The 5th Grade Boys Green team started their season with a thrilling overtime victory on the road over the defending champions from St. John’s in Clark. The Celtics’ swarming defense powered a 4th quarter comeback erasing an 8-point deficit to send the game to overtime. Nicholas Franklin, Liam Laskowski and Owen Holt contributed key steals down the stretch and Danny Guarnieri and Patrick Campbell sunk key free throws in overtime to provide the margin of victory in the 25-23 contest. Mike Pirone led all scorers with 12 points and Brendan Dawkins added 9 in the season opening victory for the Celtics.

The team then improved to 2-0 beating St. Helen’s in Westfield by a score of 25-22. Patrick Campbell’s 4 early points and slick ball-handling and passing got the Celtics off to a fast start. William Walsman, Miles Drayton and Nicholas Alexander each contributed key baskets aiding the Celtics’ cause. Brendan Dawkins led all scorers with 10 points and Mike Pirone added 5 points, 4 steals and 5 blocked shots including blocking a potential game-tying 3 pointer at the buzzer to assure the Celtics’ hard-fought victory.

The 6th Grade Boys opened with a 25-12 victory over St. Theresa. The team jumped to a double-digit lead in the first-half through their unrelenting and tenacious defense. Buchi Amobi, who had been nursing a knee injury, came off the bench to protect the paint and swatted a number of the opponent’s shots into the stands. Several steals by Kye Haniph, Nick Lorenzo, Nico Reyes, and Alex Iozzio, frequently led to baskets by CYO rookies Alejandro Lorenzo and Ryan Nnoli. Meanwhile, Ryan Barrett’s constant hustle plays created a number of offensive opportunities and defensive stops for his team. Throughout the game, Damian Cataneo was a rebounding machine. In the second half, the team’s “guest” player, Brendan Dawkins, got red-hot and finished the game with a team high of 13 points. Due to the team’s all-out effort for the entire game, they were able to successfully finish the game with a comfortable lead.

The 7th Grade Saint Joseph Boys kicked off the season with two convincing wins this past weekend. On Saturday, the Celtics played host to St. James Springfield and posted a 43-22 win. Point guard Perry Reyes led the Celtics with nine points. Other Celtic guards, Ben Sczepanski, Harry Fardin and Aiden Wolfe each contributed six points. Matt Morales dumped in another six. Derrick Baptise, Nicholas Aaron and James Griffith rounded out the scoring. Anthony Fuschetto made big contributions on the boards while Cole Latimer pressed on defense; creating multiple turnovers.

On Sunday evening, Holy Trinity School Westfield visited the Saint Joseph gym and were defeated by a score of 45-25. Perry Reyes continued with a hot hand; opening things up with a deep three pointer and added another dozen points to bring his total for the night to fifteen. Derrick Baptiste contributed eight points and Ben Sczepanski finished the evening with six. Aiden Wolfe, Matt Morales, Nicholas Aaron and Colin Williams added the the point total. Ty Budd turned in a strong performance on the defensive end and distributed the ball effectively inside and out from his off guard position.


The Varsity 7th/8th Grade Girls opened their season with back-to-back wins. On Saturday, the girls defeated St. James of Springfield. After a slow start the girls came back from a 11-2 halftime score to win 17-13 in overtime.  Ellie Clark lead the team with 9 points. Sophia Noll added 4 with Lila Price and Heather Doyle each scoring a basket.


On Sunday, the girls defeated St. Joseph’s of  Roselle 27-17. Molly Gray led the team with 8 points, while Lily Ramos,  Annabel Callahan and Ellie Clarke each had four points. Lila Price, Darcy Pearlman and Sophia Noll had a basket each, and Sophia Rounsavill made a free-throw shot. The girls take on St. Theresa of Westfield on Saturday, Dec. 12th.

The JV Girls started the 2015-2016 season with a bang, racking up two convincing wins in Union County CYO play over the weekend.   On Saturday, St. Joseph coasted en route to a 15-2 victory over St. James of Springfield.   The outcome was never in doubt as St. Joseph controlled the game from start to finish.  Using its height advantage inside and aggressive perimeter defense, St. Joseph forced St. James to take contested outside shots and many of those missed shots were corralled by Kathleen Wack and Neve McGowan, who dominated the defensive backboards.

Evelyn Calabrese led the team in scoring with 8 points, six coming in a decisive first-half run that propelled St. Joseph to a 9-0 lead at halftime. Leah Connell chipped in with 3 points, while Katie Wilkes and Kathleen Wack rounded out the scoring with 2 points each.  St. Joseph also received a number of valuable contributions on the defensive end of the floor. Wilkes and Jamie Fardin were disruptive, forcing some turnovers and coming up with a number of steals in the 2nd half.

On Sunday, St. Joseph used a smothering defense and timely outside shooting to beat All Saints Academy of Bayonne by a score of 19-3.  St. Joseph received balanced scoring, with 4 players scoring at least 4 points or more.   St. Joseph continuously probed the All Saints zone defense, finding the gaps and seams to get quality shots for their teammates.     Kathleen Wack led the way with 6 points to go with 8 rebounds.   Hustling throughout and giving maximum effort on both ends of the floor, Neve McGowan scored 5 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.   Jamie Fardin and Katie Wilkes provided solid guard play, coming up with key steals and knocking down timely shots from the outside in the 2nd-half, particularly at times when All Saints appeared to grab some momentum.    St. Joseph also received key contributions from Kathleen Byrne, Leah Connell and Mia Hankey.  Hankey finished with 3 assists and 6 rebounds.


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