In the JV Boys' category, Trenton Catholic Academy beat St. Raphael-Holy Angels 29-28. Mike Ehrmann photo
In the JV Boys' category, Trenton Catholic Academy beat St. Raphael-Holy Angels 29-28. Mike Ehrmann photo
It was Super Sunday at the Mercer County CYO Center, Trenton, Feb. 16, as the league crowned its seven champions in the playoff finals at the Mincey Manczak Gymnasium.

The boys and girls JV and varsity teams will play in the Diocesan Grammar School Playoff finals, beginning Feb. 24. Champions from the four counties in the Diocese will be represented and the finals are Feb. 29 at the CYO Center.

PHOTO GALLERY: CYO Playoffs -- Boys' JV Teams -- TCA-St. Raphael-Holy Angels

PHOTO GALLERY: CYO Playoffs -- Girls' JV Teams -- St. Gregory the Great-St. James

Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, won its third straight Boys Varsity title by taking a 67-30 victory over St. Raphael-Holy Angels’ Gold as playoff Most Valuable Player Dominic Raymond scored 14 points. It was the 66th straight victory for TCA in CYO play.

Also in the regular rotation were Jordan Fusik, John Merluse, Brandon Napoleon, Thomas Sorber and Joshua Pintella, who was named MVP of the regular season.

“Jordan, John and Brandon were outstanding outside shooters,” coach Bob Fusik said. “Dominic, Thomas and Joshua drove to the hole and dominated the paint in every game. Our championship win was a great game against St. Raphael’s.”

Rounding out the squad were Daniel Montero, Geovanny Herrera, Rossini Leroy, Aidan Nazario and Donovan Macon.

“This group of young men have played tremendous team basketball for the past three undefeated seasons,” said Fusik, who was assisted by Dan Napoleon. “They ended with a 66-0 record as we head into the Diocesan Tournament, where we are hoping to win for the third year in a row – an  an accomplishment that has never been done in the tournament history.” 

In Girls Varsity play, third-seeded St. Gregory the Great Blue from Hamilton Square, topped fourth-seeded St. Paul’s Gold from Princeton, 54-33, as playoff MVP Adriana Salzano exploded for 29 points.

Also contributing were Grace Giblin, Sophia Bottoni, Gabriella Bottoni, Emily Hardiman, Cora Butler, Gianna Iannaccone, Simone Pintinalli, Haley Brown, Samantha Norton, Emma Marchese, Julia Chianese, Reagan Robinson and Gretchen Kohn.

“Our girls played hard from the start of the game,” coach Danielle Bottoni said. “As a team they play with 100 percent determination and heart. In particular, we had great shooting from Adriana and Simone, tough defense from Grace and Emily, excellent ball control from Sophia, and strong rebounding from Reagan.”

“They all bring something unique to the team and they work well together on the court,” Bottoni said. “I am so proud of these girls. It was a well-deserved victory.”

JV News

In JV play, Fusik coached a second championship team during the day as top-seeded TCA edged second-seeded St. Raphael-Holy Angels’ Gold, 29-28. Dylan Napoleon led TCA with 22 points and earned playoff MVP honors.

“It was a great win against a very talented St. Raphael’s team,” Fusik said.

Napoleon, Brent Zoeduah, Luis Bertolini, Sean Turner, Elijah Dillon and Kalebh Girton were the driving forces behind TCA’s 19-0 season. Napoleon also won regular-season MVP honors.

Rounding out the team were Alexander Dillon, Chase Martin, Germaine Bryson, Hector Morales, Jadin Perez, Jameson Haque, Javen Tarr, Javier Moreno, Jefferson Aguirre, Miguel Quijada and Thiago Orantes. Jeff Cohen and Dan Napoleon were assistant coaches.

In the Girls JV final, top-seeded St. Gregory the Great’s Blue team topped No. 2 St. James, Pennington, 26-19, as playoff MVP Reese Parker led the way with 10 points.

Sam Jolly, the coach’s daughter, was the game’s second leading scorer after winning regular-season MVP honors.

“Sam was our floor general (in the final) as she has been all season, and always seemed to be where the ball was,” Beth Jolly said. “She hit some key shots, got some big rebounds and helped control the tempo of the game.

”We fought hard the entire game,” Jolly continued. “St. James was an incredible competitor, and we had to work to get our shots off.  We focused on winning each quarter, and I'm so proud of the tremendous effort that all of our girls put forth to win the game.”

Rounding out the squad were Allie McCarthy, Lauren Marhold, Capri Valentino, Gabrielle Sanon-Jules, Anna Hughes, Brooke Borusovic, Gracyn Antosiewicz, Maya Foley and Lianna Lo.

“It was great to see how this team came together and worked hard this season,” Jolly said. “We set a goal early on to win the championship and focused our efforts on getting there and achieving that goal.  Everyone on the team contributed to make it happen, which was so great to see.”

It was the culmination of three great years at the helm for Jolly.

“It's been so rewarding to see the progress that they have all made,” she said. “We were able to win the Freshman title two years ago, and now the JV title this year.  I'm looking forward to what the future holds for these girls and this team.”

CYO’s Feisty Freshmen

Top-seeded St. Gregory’s Red & White claimed its Freshman title with a 27-23 win over Princeton Academy Green as point guard Mike Shanklin led the way with 10 points. Coach Danny Bendas felt Shanklin and shooting guard Jonathan Posivak were the team’s key players.

“Mike has the ability to handle the ball and make the big shots when they are needed,” Bendas said. “Jonathan is excellent at driving to the basket and forcing turnovers.”

The rest of the team featured Jack Bendas, Jai Johnson, Kurtis Johnson, Brandon Leder, Matteo Leming, Evan Lopez, Justin Lushbaugh, Mike Schiaretti, Santo Vasta, Liam Williams and Joey Wilson.

“All season we played as a team,” said Bendas, who was assisted by Mike Shanklin and Mike Schiaretti. “Every player played in every game and was a contributing factor to our first place regular-season finish as well as our championship win. Every game we were able to get 100 percent effort and production from our bench.”

The coach added that in the title game, Vasta made a key shot for his first basket of the season. It was a memorable moment that almost led to trouble.

“The team was so excited for him they cleared the bench and we were warned by the ref not to allow our bench to approach the court,” Bendas said. “This sums up how each player supported their teammates throughout the season.”

In the Boys Freshman Blue final, second-seeded TCA topped St. Raphael-Holy Angels’ Gold, 16-12, behind Gavin Powell’s 14 points.  That gave TCA three of the four boys titles.

Rounding out the team were Aiden Self, Jaquan Anderson, Ayden Deleon, Constantine Toe, Lenox Yeboah, Joseph Lopez-Sanchez, Bryan Merida, Roderick Anderson, DJ Samuels, Lucas Feliciano, Aaron Jimenez, Isiah McClean and Breon Bittings.

“Although we had a few fourth graders on our team, the majority of my players were third graders,” said head coach Brian Sirak, who was assisted by Ryan Baxter. “At the start of the season many of my players had never played organized basketball. They’ve come a long way. I am very proud of each and every one of them.

“Gavin and Ayden were our key players. Ayden has been with me for two years and definitely came into his own this season. Gavin is a natural talent. He is a generous team player, a hard worker and a good leader. I am blessed to have coached such a fine group of players, to work with their incredibly supportive parents this season.”

In the girls freshman final, top-seeded St. Gregory Blue made it a clean sweep in ladies play for the Hamilton Square program by taking an 18-12 win over No. 3 St. Paul’s.

“It was a great day for our program,” coach John Cimino said. “Three wins for a the girls and one for the boys. It was incredible.”

The well-rounded St. Gregory the Great’s attack was powered by Siena Golizio, Jacqueline Drennan, Ella Gilmartin, Isabella Rosa, Paige Marrone, Mary Kate Giblin, Emma Cimino, Zoe Falcone and Sophia Antosiewicz. 

“The girls played with a lot of heart,” Cimino said. “They played really great defense  throughout the game and I’m just super proud of their effort from the beginning of the season to the end. They were undefeated, it’s not easy to go through a season and win consistently game in and game out. The effort was incredible.”