This article was submitted by a team parent.
St. Joseph’s Pee Wee girls white team lost the championship game in overtime on Sunday against St. James, 13-11. Both teams showed hearts of champions and true sportsmanship as they played hard from the opening tip until the final buzzer. St. James scored first and was able to hold off the Celtics to keep the lead the entire game. The Celtics battled on every possession and tied the game multiple times, none more important than with 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Neve McGowan converted one of two free throws to put the game into overtime and give the Celtics another shot at victory.
St. Joseph’s played team basketball as usual with scoring contributions from four players: Leah Connell (2), Talia Baptiste (2), Neve McGowan (3), Evelyn Calabrese (2) and Zahra Alexander (1). Pushing and distributing the ball for the Celtics were Katie O’Mara, Maggie Callahan, Peyton Hollis and Paloma Duvergne. The Celtics moved the ball around on offense and found open shots as Ruby Aylward, Jamie Fardin and Kathleen Byrne faced the basket looking to dribble, penetrate or pass to the open players inside. The team’s tough 2-3 zone defense forced St. James to shoot many outside jump shots. Sophia Franklin defended the top of the perimeter and forced many turnovers with her quickness, and Catherine Holt played the bottom of the defense guarding the basket and getting rebounds.
In overtime, with every possession counting, St. Joseph’s had multiple opportunities to put the ball in the basket. But nothing fell for the Celtics and St. James put in an outside jump shot for the final points of the game.
St. Joseph’s Fourth Grade boys white team lost to Holy Trinity of Westfield 26-22 for the CYO Championship on Sunday. The game was close throughout, with the lead going back and forth many times. Connor Ward led the team with 8 points, followed by Jeremiah Cook and Declan O’Conner with 4 points each. Malachy Meyer, Charlie Giannone and Conor Kagel also contributed on offense. Sebastian Pappas, Callan Bauer and Sean Kagel helped on defense and on the boards. This game marked the third time St. Joseph’s faced Holy Trinity. The teams split the first two games, both of with were tight contests.
After a comeback victory from 16 points down in a semi-final game against Holy Trinity, St. Joseph’s Varsity boys high school team earned a berth in the championship game against St. Helen’s of Westfield. Despite the shooting efforts of Julian Henry, top scorer for St. Joseph’s, Dante Muccigrosso, Jack Carson and Patrick O’Leary, St. Helen’s was too much to handle. Defensively, James McGuire, Mike Burke and Dylan Karten, put on pressure, and Joseph Sanchez and Justin Wozniak led the rebounding effort. Tom Budzyn was sidelined due to illness. A true team effort was put forth. The loss in the final does not tarnish an overall good season by the team.
St. Joseph’s Varsity girls team finished an outstanding season, making it all of the way to the semi-finals, before losing a tough game to Holy Trinity of Westfield. The Varsity girls finished with a 7 – 7 record. Their fast break offense was led by point guards Abbie Garaban and Merry Meyer who pushed the ball up court for acrobatic driving layups and found open teammates for easy baskets. Forward Sarah Johnson, an all-around superstar for the Celtics, led the team in minutes played, rebounding, and steals and provided critical ball handling against the press. The deadly accurate outside shooting of Abbie Valente, Grace Petroccia and Hudson Hassler consistently stretched their opponents’ defense and produced several critical three-pointers throughout the season. Ellison Rounsavill anchored the Celtics interior defense, intimidating opponents with tenacious rebounding and shot blocking. The Celtics’ full-court press was sparked by the ultra-aggressive play of Zoe Gill, who also played all five positions at various times this year. Seventh graders Erin Lackey, Cece Clarke and Ellie Clarke provided outstanding defense and timely shooting coming off the bench.
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 15 teams for girls and boys in Grades 2 – 12.