TCA’s Thomas Sorbel takes on St. Leo’s Tyler Burnham during the Diocesan CYO Tournament boys Varsity game. Mike Ehrmann photo
TCA’s Thomas Sorbel takes on St. Leo’s Tyler Burnham during the Diocesan CYO Tournament boys Varsity game. Mike Ehrmann photo
At 5 p.m. Feb. 28, the Trenton Catholic Academy girls’ basketball team tipped off against Stuart in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. It started a magical 24 hours for TCA, as four different teams would represent the parish with four championships.

After the Iron Mikes boys’ and girls’ high school teams each defended their MCT titles on Friday night, the younger TCA boys went to work on Saturday by winning the JV and Varsity crowns in the Msgr. Leonard Toomey Diocesan CYO Tournament.

Photo Galleries: JV Boys - TCA v. St. Leo  AND Varsity Boys - TCA v. St. Leo

The Hamilton-based JV team claimed a thrilling 53-52 victory over St. Leo’s of Lincroft in Mincey Manczak Gymnasium at the Mercer County CYO Center in Trenton. The afternoon concluded with the TCA varsity defeating St. Leo’s, 57-45.

Both teams capped 22-0 seasons and Varsity became the first Diocesan group to win three straight championships and go 66-0 over three years since they started keeping track of statistics in 2005.

The current varsity squad won the JV tournament with a predominantly sixth-grade team in 2018, and claimed the varsity titles the past two years. The players have mostly been the same throughout the run.

“We talked about it at the beginning of the year that if we could somehow win this championship, it’s something that’s never been done,” coach Bob Fusik said. “They were all excited. Who would have ever thought in sixth grade when we put this team together with some kids from OLS (Our Lady of Sorrows) this would happen?

“I guess in sixth grade, we expected to win it and maybe in eighth grade because we had the older kids. But in seventh grade, who would have thought we would have won the eighth-grade division against St. Greg’s?”

St. Leo’s has been nearly as good, as it went 63-3 over the past three years, with all three losses coming to TCA in the championship game.

“They were a very, very, very good team,” Fusik said. “They had a 6-6 kid who we struggled with early, but then he got into a little bit of foul trouble.”

Despite TCA’s 12-point margin of victory, the game was close throughout. Jordan Fusik came through down the stretch, hitting two 3-pointers and drawing an offensive foul to help the champs pull away.

Fusik, the coach’s son, finished with 21 points and took home tournament Most Valuable Player honors, while Thomas Sorber scored 18 points.

That gave TCA three different MVPs this year, as Josh Pintella won the regular-season award and Dominic Raymond won it at the Mercer County finals.

“They’re all very unselfish,” Fusik said. “Anybody could be the MVP on any day. It’s crazy how you have three different MVPs; it shows we’re not led by one kid.”

Rounding out the team are John Merluse, Brandon Napoleon, Daniel Montero, Geovanny Herrera, Rossini Leroy, Aidan Nazario and Donovan Macon.  

“They’re just great kids,” Fusik said. “They all come to practice, and we had hard practices.”

The JV team, too, worked hard every day and found a star in Dylan Napoleon, who scored 23 points in the close victory over St. Leo’s.

Then there was Sean Turner, who not only played a strong all-around game, he hit the winning 3-pointer in the closing minute, and TCA forced St. Leo’s into an errant shot as the clock ran out.

Like the varsity, the TCA JV gave St. Leo’s its only loss this season.

“The JV game was totally back and forth the entire game,” Fusik said. “They were up five or six, they hit a couple shots, we took a four or five point lead, they came back.” Then they missed the last shot.

Other team members were Brent Zoeduah, Luis Bertolini, Elijah Dillon, Kalebh Girton, Alexander Dillon, Chase Martin, Germaine Bryson, Hector Morales, Jadin Perez, Jameson Haque, Javen Tarr, Javier Moreno, Jefferson Aguirre, Miguel Quijada and Thiago Orantes.

Dan Napoleon and Jeff Cohen were Fusik’s assistants.

“It was a fun weekend,” said Fusik, who also coaches the TCA high school girls. “It’s well worth it at the end. Win or lose, just getting out there and competing is all worth it.”  

The Diocesan Tournament, named in memory of the late CYO founding director, Msgr. Toomey, featured qualifying teams from the four counties in the Diocese of Trenton – Mercer, Burlington, Ocean and Monmouth. The title game was decided after semifinals games between Mercer-Burlington and Ocean-Monmouth.