CYO Mercer Basketball Girls JV Champions: St. Raphael-Holy Angels School, Hamilton. Courtesy photo
CYO Mercer Basketball Girls JV Champions: St. Raphael-Holy Angels School, Hamilton. Courtesy photo

The Mercer County CYO basketball season held its “Day of Champions” on Sunday, Feb. 19 at the CYO Center in Trenton. Six teams were crowned champions in the legendary Mincy Manczak Gymnasium, while the season’s individual award winners were also announced.

PHOTO GALLERY: Mercer CYO Championships

Here is a breakdown of how the title games played out in each division, and who won postseason honors:  


In an absolute thriller, 2nd-seeded St. Paul’s of Princeton defeated top-seeded St. Gregory the Great Academy’s Blue of Hamilton Square, 14-12, in overtime.

“It was a very competitive game from start to finish,” coach Paul Brost said. “We just barely hung on to the victory with St. Greg’s missing a potentially game tying shot at the buzzer.”

Catherine Teely led St. Paul’s with five points. Rounding out the roster were Riley Archbald, Harper Archbald, Diana Hubbard, Gwen Brost, Elizabeth Foley, Jasmine Carter, Anna Ruel and Pilar Varela.


Top-seeded St. John the Baptist of Allentown claimed a 14-10 victory over 2nd-seeded St. Gregory Blue as Joey Cannizzaro popped in six points to lead a balanced attack.

Also tickling the twine for St. John were Frederick Dumont, Declan Hamilton, Ryan O’Donnell and Chase Rogers with two points apiece.

This marked St. John’s first season back in CYO basketball after nearly a decade. A team full of players with drive and tenacity helped compile a 16-0 record in CYO play and a 3-0 mark in tournament play. St. John was both the regular-season and playoff champion. The key to its stellar showing was pressure defense, rebounding and great athleticism, along with a strong work ethic.

Others who helped produce a victory in the title game were Kellan Jones, Dean Dumont, Giovanni Coecliff, Will Collier, Marco Girard and Jack Bencivengo, who displayed stellar defensive skills, slick passing and relentless rebounding. Two players who missed the championship game but aided in the unbeaten season were Salvatore Guglielmelli and Grayson Cook.  


Top-seeded St. Raphael-Holy Angels of Hamilton defeated 2nd-seeded St. Gregory the Great Blue, 19-8, as playoff MVP Addison Dziubak poured in 15 points for the winners.

“The championship game went pretty much as I had planned,” coach Andy Dziubak said. “My girls played hard, contested all their shooters, rebounded the basketball and made timely shots. These girls battle every day in practice and that translates to the games and they make nothing easy for the other team.”

Other scorers for the champs were Reese Fisher and Emily Casimates with two points apiece.  

The tone was set at the game’s outset when St. Raphael – which worked on a jump ball play during practices – won the opening tip that resulted in a Dziubak lay-up. A Reese putback basket and a Dziubak steal and layup put St. Raphael up three at halftime. The third quarter ended with what Andy Dziubak called “the play of the game” when Casimates came up with a steal and went the length of the court to hit a pull-up jumper for a five-point lead the winners would not relinquish.

Other contributors to the successful season, which included the regular-season championship, were Grace Hollendonn, Gianna Colter, Cait McGlynn, Chloe Crowell, Olivia Angiolino, Lindsay Ditta, Kara Petrino, Victoria Lockington, Giuliana Tamagno and Katerina Pillar.

“We played with one motto all year – it doesn’t matter who scores the points, we play as a team and for each other,” coach Dziubak said. “We had a tough, hard-nosed group of girls. I’m so proud of them.”

St. Raphael will go for the hat trick in championships March 4 when it competes in the Diocesan Tournament.

As for regular-season awards, Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Princeton, was the Team Sportsmanship winner, St. Gregory the Great Blue’s Paige Marrone was the Individual Sportsmanship winner, St. Gregory the Great White’s Sophia Lo was Small School MVP and Addison Dziubak was Large School MVP.  


Top-seeded St. James of Hopewell Valley topped St. Gregory the Great Blue, 30-26, as playoff MVP John Troiano led the winners with 11 points.

As for the regular-season prize winners, St. Paul’s won for Team Sportsmanship, St. Ann of Lawrenceville’s Chander Brown was the Individual Sportsmanship winner; St. James’ Brendon Whitlock was Small School MVP and St. Gregory Blue’s Gavin Johnson was Large School MVP.  


Second-seeded St. Gregory White edged top-seeded St. Paul’s Gold, 20-17, as playoff MVP Emma Naperkowski led the attack with 13 points.

As for regular-season awards, St. Gregory Blue was Team Sportsmanship winner, St. Gregory Blue’s Talia Kniffin was Individual Sportsmanship winner and St. Paul Gold’s Maia Davis was MVP.


Playoff MVP Angelo Pesce scored 13 points to power top-seeded St. Gregory the Great Blue to a 40-25 win over St. Raphael’s Gold.

“A CYO championship was the goal when we started the season and our boys did not disappoint,” coach Brian Pesce said. “They executed extremely well as a team, had balanced scoring and played relentless defense resulting in a 20 point victory.”

Carlo Giquinto added eight points in the title game, while Makai Blackstone had six, Chase Whitman five, Tim Ellingson four, and AJ Liberto, Nico Feniello and Chris Mazzucco three apiece. Rocco Valentino collected some key rebounds and delivered strong defense to the cause.

Although unable to play in the title game due to injury, Ricky Bender was a key contributor throughout the season.  

“This was a dream season in which we finished 17-0 overall,” Pesce said. “We were undefeated in both the league and playoffs and all the credit is due to our players. They are a tremendous group of student-athletes who compete with passion and truly enjoy playing with one another.  

“The bulk of this group has been together since third grade and won a previous CYO championship at the Freshman level so this was the perfect ending for this great team. The coaches are extremely proud of their efforts.”

As for the season award winners, St. Paul’s White won Team Sportsmanship honors, Our Lady of Sorrows of Hamilton’s Danny Opalski was Individual Sportsmanship winner, St. Gregory the Great White’s Mike Shanklin won the Small School MVP and Angelo Pesce won the Large School MVP.