By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor
It was the biggest day of the year for Mercer County CYO basketball Feb. 17, as seven playoff champions were crowned during Championship Sunday at the league’s iconic gym on Broad Street in Trenton.
The following is a synopsis of each title game along with the season award-winner.
Our Lady of Sorrows defeated St. Gregory’s, 27-19, as Anna Primerano scored 19 points and was named the playoff Most Valuable Player. Emma Wilkie added eight points and Mia Hartman had six.
It was the second straight playoff title for OLS, which finished 14-2 despite losing Hartman and her back-up, Dana Phillips, to injuries for the early portion of the season. Coach Tom Carella’s team has gone 34-2 over the last two years.
The starting lineup featured Primerano, Hartman, Wilke, Abby Reagan and Brenna Riddell. Rounding out the team were Sabrina Capuano, Dana Phillips, Jamie Ash, Katie Wilke, Amelia Smith, Jules Hartman, Ryane Riddell and Gaby Nobile. Nick Commiso was Carella’s assistant.
“Coach Nick and I have always stressed that hard work pays off, and that sums up both of the teams we have had,” Carella said. “This year’s squad is certainly unique. It’s a very young squad with just two eighth-graders, five seventh-graders, four sixth-graders and two fifth-graders.
Regular-season awards went to St. Paul’s Ava Caruso (Sportsmanship and Small School MVP), St. Gregory’s White (Team Sportsmanship) and St. Greg’s Kara Keating (Large School MVP).
Trenton Catholic Academy defeated St. Paul’s Gold, 38-20, to win its second consecutive playoff title. Playoff MVP Thomas Sorber led the scoring with eight points.
“This win capped off two years where we finished 52-0 with the majority of the same players,” said coach Bob Fusik, who also coaches the TCA high school girls team. “These kids all play hard and work well as a team. We work hard on defense because defense wins games, and these kids played with that philosophy all year long.”
TCA’s Devin Wright-Myles was the regular-season Small School MVP, and the coach praised Jordan Fusik, Josh Pintella, Jack Martin, TJ Keese, Domenic Raymond and Miles Humphries “on being key contributors.” Rounding out the roster were Aidan Farrior, Geovanny Herrera, Evan Jones, Rossini Leroy, Antonia Martinez, Daniel Montero, Brandon Napoleon and Aidan Nazzario.
Other regular-season awards went to St. Greg’s Michael Smith (Sportsmanship and Large School MVP) and St. Paul’s (Team Sportsmanship).
St. Paul’s Gold defeated St. Gregory’s Blue 32-11, as Izzy Augustine led the attack with 12 points to win the playoff MVP after winning the regular-season Large School Most Valuable Player.
Rounding the roster were Olivia Cano, Keren Del Rosario, Emeli Hernandez, Sofia Romanelli, Lexie Loughran, Alexa George, Marie Conway, Daniela Mauro, Melissa Quevedo, Phoebe Thielmann, Marian Samuel, Antonette Uy, Clementine Sutter and Brook Truslow.
“The girls played an absolutely fantastic game,” said coach Brian Augustine, whose team finished 18-0. “They played as a team; each player contributed to the overall success of not just the championship game the entire season. I have 15 players with various skill levels ranging from some who are playing AAU level basketball to those who picked up a basketball for the first time a year ago. To say I am proud of these girls is an understatement. They have worked very hard this season.
Regular-season award winners were St. Paul’s Caroline Foley (Sportsmanship), St. Paul’s Blue (Team Sportsmanship), Stuart’s Sienna Dowling (Small School MVP) and Augustine.
St. Raphael’s Gold defeated St. Paul’s Gold, 43-18, as Destine Evans scored 17 points en route to winning the playoff MVP. That made it a clean sweep for Evans, who was also the regular-season MVP.
Other awards were garnered by OLS’ Mike Rocco (Sportsmanship), St. Ann’s (Team Sportsmanship), and St. Paul’s William Foley (Small School MVP).
St. Gregory’s Blue team defeated St. Paul’s Gold, 14-4, as Alcon Parker led the winners with six points.
BOYS FRESHMAN (BLUE)
Princeton Academy Green rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to defeat St. Paul’s Blue, 25-22, in overtime as Ronan Sylvan led PA with nine points. Also contributing to the first CYO title in Princeton Academy history were Brennan Caldwell, Thatcher Aton, Julian Bremser, Leonidas Panday-Rojas, Roman Corti, Jonathan Xu, Thomas Davis, Rowan Connor, Max Xu and Sandro Cunningham. Corti delivered a key bucket, and Aton hit the game-winning 3-pointer.
“The boys showed their grit and determination,” coach Kathleen Mayer said. “We did a great job of staying calm in overtime and moving the ball around to find an open shot. Winning the championship was a very special moment.”
BOYS FRESHMAN (RED & WHITE)
St. Gregory’s defeated Princeton Academy Green, 27-13, behind 10 points from Julian Malunow. St. Greg’s finished 22-1 and also won the St. Raphael’s Pilgrim Harvest Tournament and Bensalem Charger Christmas Tournament earlier in the season.
Other contributors were Angelo Pesce, Chase Whitman, Rocco Valentino, Troy Luceri, Juan Bustamante, Nicholas Usmiani, Timothy Ellingson, Richie Polgar, Nico Feniello and Anthony Liberto. Assistant coaches were Remy Feniello and Chris Valentino.
“This win capped an incredible season,” coach Brian Pesce said. “It was a joy to coach such an amazing group of boys whose success is directly related to their strong work ethic and passion for the game of basketball. These boys play the game the right way and have an extremely bright future.”