This article has been submitted by a team parent.
St. Joseph’s Celtics basketball teams show continued improvement in the eighth week of the Union County CYO Basketball season.
St. Joseph’s sixth grade boys’ team hosted Saint Helen’s of Westfield on Sunday evening for an incredibly exciting game that ended in St. Helen’s hitting a last second shot in overtime to win 30-28. Derrick Baptiste turned in an extraordinary performance for the Celtics, scoring twelve points, grabbing ten rebounds and adding six steals and four blocks for good measure. Patrick Dawkins and Perry Reyes each contributed six points and Nicholas Aaron and Matt Morales each added a field goal. Ben Sczepanski and Harry Fardin played aggressive defense throughout, racking up three steals each. Cole Latimer turned in a strong rebounding performance, pulling down seven critical rebounds; he was supported on the boards by Matt Morales, James Griffis, Devin Brown and Anthony Fuschetto.
St. Joseph’s fourth grade white boys’ team lost a close game against St. Helen’s of Westfield 23-19. The Celtics jumped out to an early lead, but couldn’t withstand a late charge by St. Helen’s. Jeremiah Cook, Declan O’Conner, Charlie Giannone, Connor Ward and Malachy Meyer led a balanced scoring attack. Sebastian Pappas, Conor Kagel, Ronan O’Beirne, Callan Bauer and Sean Kagel helped on defense and on the boards. The team is showing great improvement, having lost to this St. Helen’s team by double digits in a December matchup.
In the high school boy’s red division, St. Josephs was able to put one into the win column with a win over St. Helen’s of Westfield, 59-35. A slow start was offset by the tenacious defense of James McMguire and steady post play and rebounding by Jack Carson, Dylan Karten and Justin Wozniak. Off the passing of Michael Burke and Tomek Budzyn, Dante Muccigrosso caught fire and led all scorers with 25 points. St. Helen’s responded with full court pressure. But the ball handling of Patrick O’Leary and Joseph Sanchez was too much for St. Helen’s to handle.
On Saturday, St. Joseph’s fourth grade boy’s green team picked up its fourth league victory in an impressive performance highlighted by the team’s best ball movement and defensive tenacity of the season. The Celtics led Holy Trinity of Westfield 9-7 at the half. Max Larson and Nicholas Franklin ran the show at point guard for the Celtics in the first half, setting up baskets for Brendan Dawkins, Patrick Campbell and Mike Pirone. The Celtics used a 10-2 run in the third quarter, led by Nicholas Alexander who contributed four points, five steals and five rebounds, to pull away from Holy Trinity. Forwards Danny Guarnieri and Owen Holt each contributed two steals and combined for seven rebounds. Patrick Campbell played excellent defense holding the opponent’s top scorer without a basket in the second half. Liam Laskowski’s skillful ball handling and tenacious defense in the second half helped the Celtics pull away for a 24-14 victory. Dawkins led the way with nine points, Pirone chipped in seven, as well as eight rebounds, and Campbell and Alexander rounded out the scoring with four points each.
On Sunday, St. Joseph’s second grade team played its fourth game of the season against St. John’s of Clark. The Celtics turned in its most dominant performance of the season. Impenetrable defense, crisp passing and sweet shooting are quickly becoming trademarks of the Celtics second graders. Steven Copeland led the Celtics by scoring four points, all in the first minutes of the game and corralling eight rebounds. Six Celtics players registered points including Flynn Larson who scored on a nice assist from Harrison Zabik and on an offensive rebound putback. Kieran Dawkins chipped in four points, several steals and a highlight film-worthy crossover dribble. The play of the game was turned in by Katie Callahan and Alex Szczepanski when Katie found Alex for a thrilling third quarter buzzer beater on a perfectly executed inbounds play. Katie also contributed three steals as her ball-hawking defense prevented the opponents from getting good chances to score. In the fourth quarter, Fiona McGowan found Luke Davenport for a basket on a beautiful pass, and Jerry Browne converted an offensive rebound for the final Celtic hoop of the game. Guard Thomas Campbell was a dual-threat notching two assists and two steals, and Timothy Van der North and Will Walsh teamed up in the power forward and center spots for the Celtics, contributing six rebounds and several steals.
St. Joseph’s pee wee boys blue Meola team beat the St. Agnes Gold team 18-16 in a down to the wire victory. It was a great team effort with contributions from each of the eight players at the game. The team showcased great passing, pick setting, and ball handling. John Pirone had eight points, including sinking two foul shots in the fourth quarter to tie the game. He also had four rebounds and four steals. Henry Aaron added six points, eight steals and three rebounds to the effort. Liam Haley contributed four points, including the winning shot, with less than a minute left. The team was tenacious, with Cian O’Connor, Lukas Alexander, Cade Minerley and Justin DeVomecourt causing multiple turnovers with their aggressive defense. Matthew Corr was strong under the boards, snatching up four rebounds and grabbing two steals.
St. Joseph’s junior varsity girls’ team grabbed another win against All Saints from Bayonne to improve its record to 5 and 2 with a score of 16 to 13. High scorer Annabel Callahan contributed nine points with players Sophia Rounsavill, Audrey Marek and Molly Gray each adding a basket. Strong defense contributors included Lily Ramos, Kathleen Wack, Kate Meyer and Sophia Noll. Guards Lila Price, Katie Wilkes, Darcy Pearlman and Emma Carsuso were key players instrumenting a press in the second half to keep the game close. The Celtics take on St. Helen’s of Westfield next Saturday.
St. Joseph’s junior varsity boys’ blue team had a busy weekend of basketball, with two games against stiff competition. On Saturday, the Celtics lost 17-4 to undefeated Koinonia Academy of Plainfield. It looked promising early as St. Joseph’s used a stingy defense and timely baskets from Nico Reyes and Alexander Werbaneth to take a 4-2 lead at halftime. Reyes scored the first basket of the game by creating some space at the top of the key and draining a jump shot. Werbaneth made a layup towards the end of the second quarter, thanks to a terrific interior pass from Buchi Amobi. In the second half, it was all Koinonia who unleashed a full-court press, leading to several turnovers and layups in transition. St. Joseph had trouble getting into its offense as Koinonia cut off the passing lanes and flustered St. Joseph with its pressure defense.
St. Joseph didn’t have much time to dwell on the loss as the junior varsity boy’s blue team got back into action on Sunday against Our Lady of Peace of New Providence. St. Joseph came up on the short-end, losing 30-22. The Celtics had the momentum early on. Making crisp passes in the half-court offense and being opportunistic on the defensive end of the floor, St. Joseph raced out to a 16-10 lead at halftime. Buchi Amobi keyed the surge, nailing a few jumpers from just inside the foul line. Amobi led the team in scoring with six points. A pair of fourth graders also helped the cause. Brendan Dawkins created a number of scoring opportunities for his teammates by pushing up the floor and finding the open man. Michael Pirone was a force in the paint, grabbing several rebounds on the offensive and defensive glass. Nico Reyes also made a solid contribution, teaming up with Dawkins to disrupt Our Lady of Peace on the defensive end of the floor. But Our Lady of Peace took control in the second half, by using its own full-court pressure defense to get a number of steals that led to layups. St. Joseph’s could not get into a rhythm on offense as Our Lady of Peace made it difficult for the Celtics to get the ball up court.
St. Joseph’s pee wee white girls’ team got back to its winning ways with two wins this weekend. On Saturday, the Celtics topped St. Genevieve 12-8 in a tightly contested game. Maggie Callahan, Kathleen Byrne and Paloma Durvergne controlled the offense by creating scoring opportunities for Neve McGowan and Jamie Fardin. Leah Connell and Talia Baptiste showed toughness on the interior, grabbing offensive and defensive rebounds, while Ruby Alward, Sophia Franklin and Peyton Hollis were quick to loose balls creating second chance points. Evelyn Calabrese put the Celtics up two late in the fourth and a heads up pass by Katie O’Mare to Neve McGowan in the closing seconds put the Celtics up for good 12-8.
On Sunday, the pee wee girls played St. Helen’s of Westfield. The Celtics electrified its fans with a 12-4 team victory. Leah Connell got the Celtics offense going with two quick baskets early in the first quarter, as Ruby Alward, and Catherine Holt set the tone for the Celtics defense by stopping dribble penetration, and creating turnovers. Neve McGowan, and Talia Baptiste were fierce on the boards grabbing rebounds as Peyton Hollis and Zhara Alexander had their hands in the passing lanes creating steals and using their quickness to get to loose balls.
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.
1: Kieran Dawkins (3) and Katie Callahan (2) set up on Defense
2: Luke Davenport (31), Timothy Van der North (41) and Jerry Browne (20) patrol the paint for the Celtics
3: Thomas Campell (22), Harrison Zabik (5), Fiona McGowan (23), Steven Copeland (30) and Alex Szczepanski (10) execute the Celtics zone defense
4: Flynn Larson (11) attempts a free throw as Alex Szczepanski (10) looks on
5: John Pirone sinking the second of two free throws that tied the game. Getting ready to rebound are Lukas Alexander and Henry Aaron.
6: St. Joseph’s Katie O’Mara pushes up on defense looking to create an opportunity for the Celtics against St. Genevieve.
7: Talia Baptiste of St. Joseph’s pushes the action after stealing the basketball against St. Genevieve.
8: St. Joseph’s Jamie Fardin shows great teamwork looking to pass to open teammate Catherine Holt against St. Joe’s vs. St. Genevieve.
9: St. Joseph’s Ruby Alward and Paloma Durvergne work on a trap and cut off the passing lanes against St. Helen’s.
10: Celtics showed toughness on defense as Maggie Callahan, Neve McGowan and Zhara Alexander swarm the basketball not allowing St. Helen’s to set their offense.