Editor’s note: this article was submitted by a team parent.
The St. Joe’s Celtics basketball teams excelled in the third week of the Union County CYO Basketball season.
The St. Joseph’s High School JV Boys team won their season opener in thrilling fashion beating St. Helen’s of Westfield 48-45 in overtime. Sean Quinn scored nine of his team high twenty points in the overtime session. Joe Starzynski hit four three pointers on his way to fifteen points. With the game tied at half time 15-15, the Celtics came out with a full court man to man press in the third quarter lead by guards Brian Etiene, with three steals, and Elijah St. Vil, with five steals. Sean Grafing and Thomas O’Connor helped control the boards with key rebounds down the stretch.
Koinonia Academy of Plainfield beat St. Joseph’s convincingly 31-10 in a JV 5th Grade Boys game. Koinonia had control from the opening tip, racing to a 20-4 halftime lead with speed and quickness on the perimeter to knock down open jump shots and dominate the backboard by grabbing numerous offensive rebounds to keep several possessions alive. Kye Haniph and Nico Reyes were bright spots for the Celtics who created opportunities for their teammates by penetrating the lane and making crisp passes.
Reyes and Haniph led the Celtics in scoring with four points each. Buchi Amobi also stood out, especially in the second half when he took control of the backboards, limiting Koinonia to one shot on multiple possessions. Damian Cataneo, Alex Iozzio and Ryan Barrett made solid contributions, helping the Celtics tighten up the defense and preventing Koinonia from getting easy shots inside the paint.
St. Joseph’s of Maplewood Pee Wee 3rd and 4th Grade Girls White team defeated St. James 4-2 in a hotly contested basketball game. St. Joseph’s took and early 4-0 lead in the first quarter with scores by Katie O’Mara and Neve McGowan. Excellent perimeter defense by Ruby Aylward and Kathleen Byrne were able to contain dribble penetration. Catherine Holt, Talia Baptiste and Jamie Fardin controlled the paint with strong rebounding and quick outlet passes to Sophia Franklin who pushed the tempo looking for scoring opportunities.
Two of St. Joseph’s Pee Wee blue teams played each other Saturday, giving them the chance to play against former teammates from last year. The Meola team won a hard fought battle 15-12. John Pirone scored quickly and was the Meola team’s rebounding leader. John and Liam Haley each had six points. Matthew Corr, Cade Minerley, Henry Aaron and Justin DeVomecourt were strong under the boards, and Henry contributed a bucket and a foul shot towards the win. Ian Webber and Lukas Alexander showed some great ball handling and passing skills in the effort.
On Sunday, the Meola team lost to a strong St. Helen’s team. Lukas Alexander and Henry Aaron showed some great ball handling and leadership skills as they battled a tough St. Helen’s defense. Henry provided the team’s only scoring with a late fourth quarter bucket. Declan Cavanaugh and Matthew Corr were strong rebounders both offensively and defensively. Justin DeVomecourt was great on defense, causing turnovers for St. Helen’s, and Henry, Justin and John Pirone each had a couple of steals. Ian Webber, Cian O’Connor, Cade Minerley and Liam Haley were pesky on defense and provided the team with five rebounds collectively.
Note that in the second week of the season, on Saturday December 6th, the St. Joseph’s Varsity Girls team lost a hard fought game against Holy Trinity of Westfield. A short-handed Celtics team was down only one point at halftime but went on to lose 28-16. Several players played a strong game, including Grace Petroccia, Zoe Gill, Abby Valente and Cece Clarke. On December 7th, the Varsity girls bounced back with a solid win over St. Theresa of Kenilworth 31-14. Led by unselfish passing and teamwork, nine of eleven Celtics got into the scoring column with second half baskets by Ellie Clarke, Cece Clarke, Abby Garaban and Merry Meyer. Erin Lackey and Grace Petroccia led with tough defense and rebounding.
Also on December 7th, the St. Joseph’s 8th Grade Varsity Boys team grabbed its second victory, 34-24, over St. James. The team jumped out to an early lead and held on throughout the game. Justin Cook scored ten points, including key free throws while Liam Kagel also scored ten points and blocked a key shot. The point guards ran a controlled offense, including Spencer Melee with four points, Liam O’ Neil with four points, and James Bristo with two points. Peter Glynn and John Lawall each chipped in with two points a piece. Key rebounds and solid contributions were made by Roan Price, Aidan Bird, Dominic Ragno and Anthony Stoicia.
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.