Mercer CYO crowns six champs and reveals award winners in basketball championship

February 22, 2024 at 10:47 a.m.
Hamilton Square’s St. Gregory the Great Blue and Hamilton’s St. Raphael’s girls basketball players battle for possession of the ball during the Mercer County CYO Basketball Championship Feb. 18. Joe Moore photo
Hamilton Square’s St. Gregory the Great Blue and Hamilton’s St. Raphael’s girls basketball players battle for possession of the ball during the Mercer County CYO Basketball Championship Feb. 18. Joe Moore photo

By RICH FISHER
Contributing Editor

It was Championship Sunday at the Mercer County CYO Center in Trenton Feb. 18, as the league crowned its six playoff championships and revealed this season’s award winners.

PHOTO GALLERY: Mercer County CYO Basketball Championships

Here’s a look at how it all turned out.

Girls Freshmen

Top-seeded St. Raphael’s of Hamilton topped 4th-seeded St. Paul’s of Princeton in the semifinals to finish the season 8-2. St. Raphael’s was crowned champion due to a forfeit in the finals.

The team consisted of Madison Grant, Jocelyn Grant, Elizabeth Lockington, Bridget Carter, Ava Timian, Elizabeth Bloor, Penelope Werts, Sophia Kemler and Vanessa Chapman.

Coach Jason Timian felt his team showed a desire to win from the beginning.

“The keys to our season started with the girls’ dedication to improve individually and as a team every week,” Timian said. “We had balanced scoring and played ferocious defense all year. Each and every player finished the season a better basketball player than when we started, and the coaches take great pride in that.”

Boys Freshmen

Third-seeded St. Paul’s Gold of Princeton upset top-seeded Hamilton Square’s St. Gregory the Great Blue, 27-23, as Will Okupski led the attack with nine points.


Princeton's St. Paul Gold freshmen boys team triumphed in matchup against St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square. Courtesy photo

St. Paul’s had a small roster but as a team displayed a big heart.

“I am very proud of this group, which has just eight rostered players but is very passionate about the game of basketball,” said coach Brian Okupski, who is assisted by Brian Vannozzi. “While we finished with a record of 14-3, that included two forfeit losses when we didn’t have enough players available.”

The “Iron Eight” featured Matthew Vannozzi, Will Okupski, Mikey Hayes, Chase Harvey, Rory Powers, Tyler Spiegel, Noah Murray and Roman Rezvani.

“It’s a fine group of boys who demonstrated great sportsmanship throughout the season,” Brian Okupski said. “It’s also a group that has confidence in themselves and their teammates.”

That became apparent when St. Raphael’s fell behind 11-3 after one quarter only to rally back.

“They tightened up their defense and managed to tie the game at halftime,” Okupski said. “Eventually they pulled ahead of a very strong St Greg’s team.”

Girls JV

Top-seeded St. Gregory’s Blue edged St. Raphael’s, 30-29, behind playoff Most Valuable Player Sophia Lo’s 11 points.

“It was truly an exciting game,” St. Greg’s coach Beth Lo said. “Both teams played the entire game with tremendous heart and effort from buzzer to buzzer.”

The game’s biggest bucket came on Avery Liberto’s 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining. Olivia Angiolino, despite playing with foul trouble most of the game, led a relentless team defense, while Sophia Lo’s post play helped St. Gregory’s on the boards.  

Finishing 16-0, St. Greg’s won the regular-season title as well, behind the play of Lo, Sloane Woods, Angiolino, Alexandra Poli, Liberto, Liliana Mancuso, Ruli Parker, Lyla Carroll, Katelyn Shute, Stella DiBartolo and Sabrina Fennelli.”

The regular-season award winners for the Girls JV Division were St. Paul’s White (Team Sportsmanship), St. Paul’s White player Catherine Teeley (Individual Sportsmanship), Stuart’s Juliette Teaney (Small School MVP) and St. Gregory’s Sloane Woods (Large School MVP). 

Boys JV

Top-seeded St. Gregory’s Blue topped St. John’s, Allentown, 32-28, behind 17 points from playoff MVP Joe D’Uva. Evan Rogers added seven points for a defensive-minded team that collected an eye-popping 44 steals and eight blocked shots in the playoffs.


Allentown’s St. John the Baptist and St. Gregory the Great face off Feb. 18 in the Mercer County CYO Basketball Championship. Joe Moore photo

 “Throughout the season we’ve been anchored by our defense,” said coach Bryan Rogers, who was assisted by Colin Kell. “During the two games in the playoffs, the defense was the key to both victories.

“It was an entire team effort this year. A different player stepped up each game. I am very proud of how hard the boys worked throughout the season and the effort they displayed. I was very fortunate to have a great group of boys that got along great, supported each other, and were willing to learn. That is a great recipe for success.”

The team included Evan Rogers, Dante Carabelli, Brayden Galant, Joe D’Uva, Gennaro Salzano, Matthew Angiolino, Jeffrey Iorio, Ryan Kell, Charlie Sodaro, Owen Quirk, Ryan Brown and Andrew Fennelli.

This year’s regular-season award winners were Lawrenceville’s St. Ann’s (Team Sportsmanship), St. Ann’s Chandler Brown (Individual Sportsmanship for second straight year), St. John’s Gianni Collela (Small School MVP) and St. Gregory Blue’s Joe D’Uva (Large School MVP).  

Girls Varsity

Top-seeded St. Gregory’s Blue defeated No. 2 Our Lady of Sorrows, Hamilton, 37-17, as playoff MVP Bella Rosa led the way with 10 points.


St. Gregory the Great Blue varsity girls edged out Our Lady of Sorrows, Hamilton, in the Feb. 18 championship game. Courtesy photo

Rounding out the team are Emma Cimino, Maddie Griffin, Sienna Golizio, Jacqueline Drennan, Sloane Woods, Olivia Angiolino, Kelleigh Griffin, Katelyn Bunnell, Ella Gilmartin and Emma Napierkowski.

"I am so proud of these girls," coach John Cimino said. "This team has won the championship three years in a row and to achieve that is simply remarkable. I can’t say enough about them other than they truly epitomize what a team is and have shown that when you care more about the team than individual goals you can achieve the ultimate goal of winning championships."

The regular-season award winners were St. Paul’s White (Team Sportsmanship), OLS’ Devon Haggerty (Individual Sportsmanship), Stuart’s Lia States (Small School MVP) and St. Gregory Blue’s Sienna Golizio (Large School MVP).

Boys Varsity

In a game of underdogs, No. 4 Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy Blue, Hamilton, defeated 3rd-seeded St. Paul’s, 48-40 as playoff MVP Jayden Sprull led the way with 17 points. Andre Robinson added 16 for a TCPA team that was 7-7 entering the playoffs.

“They were destined to make it to the top,” coach Andre Self said. “They developed well over the season and came out determined in the playoffs. They collaborated well together. With their passion for the game they practiced every day, even on their day off. They took to the court with a mindset of achievement.”  

The Iron Mikes team consisted of Jayden Spruill, Aiden Self, Colby Welch, Sunil Kumeh, Maurice White, Andre Robinson, Isaiah McLean, Kyler Cook, Gavin Powell, Constantine Toe and Bryan Herrera. Jennifer Self was the team’s assistant.

The regular-season award winners were TCPA White (Team Sportsmanship), TCPA White’s Ayden DeLeon (Individual Sportsmanship), OLS’ Brennon Babkowski (Small School MVP) and St. Paul’s Sebastian Kyler (Large School MVP).


Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy Blue took the Varsity trophy in the Mercer CYO championship game Feb. 18. Courtesy photo

 



Related Stories

It was Championship Sunday at the Mercer County CYO Center in Trenton Feb. 18, as the league crowned its six playoff championships and revealed this season’s award winners.

PHOTO GALLERY: Mercer County CYO Basketball Championships

Here’s a look at how it all turned out.

Girls Freshmen

Top-seeded St. Raphael’s of Hamilton topped 4th-seeded St. Paul’s of Princeton in the semifinals to finish the season 8-2. St. Raphael’s was crowned champion due to a forfeit in the finals.

The team consisted of Madison Grant, Jocelyn Grant, Elizabeth Lockington, Bridget Carter, Ava Timian, Elizabeth Bloor, Penelope Werts, Sophia Kemler and Vanessa Chapman.

Coach Jason Timian felt his team showed a desire to win from the beginning.

“The keys to our season started with the girls’ dedication to improve individually and as a team every week,” Timian said. “We had balanced scoring and played ferocious defense all year. Each and every player finished the season a better basketball player than when we started, and the coaches take great pride in that.”

Boys Freshmen

Third-seeded St. Paul’s Gold of Princeton upset top-seeded Hamilton Square’s St. Gregory the Great Blue, 27-23, as Will Okupski led the attack with nine points.


Princeton's St. Paul Gold freshmen boys team triumphed in matchup against St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square. Courtesy photo

St. Paul’s had a small roster but as a team displayed a big heart.

“I am very proud of this group, which has just eight rostered players but is very passionate about the game of basketball,” said coach Brian Okupski, who is assisted by Brian Vannozzi. “While we finished with a record of 14-3, that included two forfeit losses when we didn’t have enough players available.”

The “Iron Eight” featured Matthew Vannozzi, Will Okupski, Mikey Hayes, Chase Harvey, Rory Powers, Tyler Spiegel, Noah Murray and Roman Rezvani.

“It’s a fine group of boys who demonstrated great sportsmanship throughout the season,” Brian Okupski said. “It’s also a group that has confidence in themselves and their teammates.”

That became apparent when St. Raphael’s fell behind 11-3 after one quarter only to rally back.

“They tightened up their defense and managed to tie the game at halftime,” Okupski said. “Eventually they pulled ahead of a very strong St Greg’s team.”

Girls JV

Top-seeded St. Gregory’s Blue edged St. Raphael’s, 30-29, behind playoff Most Valuable Player Sophia Lo’s 11 points.

“It was truly an exciting game,” St. Greg’s coach Beth Lo said. “Both teams played the entire game with tremendous heart and effort from buzzer to buzzer.”

The game’s biggest bucket came on Avery Liberto’s 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining. Olivia Angiolino, despite playing with foul trouble most of the game, led a relentless team defense, while Sophia Lo’s post play helped St. Gregory’s on the boards.  

Finishing 16-0, St. Greg’s won the regular-season title as well, behind the play of Lo, Sloane Woods, Angiolino, Alexandra Poli, Liberto, Liliana Mancuso, Ruli Parker, Lyla Carroll, Katelyn Shute, Stella DiBartolo and Sabrina Fennelli.”

The regular-season award winners for the Girls JV Division were St. Paul’s White (Team Sportsmanship), St. Paul’s White player Catherine Teeley (Individual Sportsmanship), Stuart’s Juliette Teaney (Small School MVP) and St. Gregory’s Sloane Woods (Large School MVP). 

Boys JV

Top-seeded St. Gregory’s Blue topped St. John’s, Allentown, 32-28, behind 17 points from playoff MVP Joe D’Uva. Evan Rogers added seven points for a defensive-minded team that collected an eye-popping 44 steals and eight blocked shots in the playoffs.


Allentown’s St. John the Baptist and St. Gregory the Great face off Feb. 18 in the Mercer County CYO Basketball Championship. Joe Moore photo

 “Throughout the season we’ve been anchored by our defense,” said coach Bryan Rogers, who was assisted by Colin Kell. “During the two games in the playoffs, the defense was the key to both victories.

“It was an entire team effort this year. A different player stepped up each game. I am very proud of how hard the boys worked throughout the season and the effort they displayed. I was very fortunate to have a great group of boys that got along great, supported each other, and were willing to learn. That is a great recipe for success.”

The team included Evan Rogers, Dante Carabelli, Brayden Galant, Joe D’Uva, Gennaro Salzano, Matthew Angiolino, Jeffrey Iorio, Ryan Kell, Charlie Sodaro, Owen Quirk, Ryan Brown and Andrew Fennelli.

This year’s regular-season award winners were Lawrenceville’s St. Ann’s (Team Sportsmanship), St. Ann’s Chandler Brown (Individual Sportsmanship for second straight year), St. John’s Gianni Collela (Small School MVP) and St. Gregory Blue’s Joe D’Uva (Large School MVP).  

Girls Varsity

Top-seeded St. Gregory’s Blue defeated No. 2 Our Lady of Sorrows, Hamilton, 37-17, as playoff MVP Bella Rosa led the way with 10 points.


St. Gregory the Great Blue varsity girls edged out Our Lady of Sorrows, Hamilton, in the Feb. 18 championship game. Courtesy photo

Rounding out the team are Emma Cimino, Maddie Griffin, Sienna Golizio, Jacqueline Drennan, Sloane Woods, Olivia Angiolino, Kelleigh Griffin, Katelyn Bunnell, Ella Gilmartin and Emma Napierkowski.

"I am so proud of these girls," coach John Cimino said. "This team has won the championship three years in a row and to achieve that is simply remarkable. I can’t say enough about them other than they truly epitomize what a team is and have shown that when you care more about the team than individual goals you can achieve the ultimate goal of winning championships."

The regular-season award winners were St. Paul’s White (Team Sportsmanship), OLS’ Devon Haggerty (Individual Sportsmanship), Stuart’s Lia States (Small School MVP) and St. Gregory Blue’s Sienna Golizio (Large School MVP).

Boys Varsity

In a game of underdogs, No. 4 Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy Blue, Hamilton, defeated 3rd-seeded St. Paul’s, 48-40 as playoff MVP Jayden Sprull led the way with 17 points. Andre Robinson added 16 for a TCPA team that was 7-7 entering the playoffs.

“They were destined to make it to the top,” coach Andre Self said. “They developed well over the season and came out determined in the playoffs. They collaborated well together. With their passion for the game they practiced every day, even on their day off. They took to the court with a mindset of achievement.”  

The Iron Mikes team consisted of Jayden Spruill, Aiden Self, Colby Welch, Sunil Kumeh, Maurice White, Andre Robinson, Isaiah McLean, Kyler Cook, Gavin Powell, Constantine Toe and Bryan Herrera. Jennifer Self was the team’s assistant.

The regular-season award winners were TCPA White (Team Sportsmanship), TCPA White’s Ayden DeLeon (Individual Sportsmanship), OLS’ Brennon Babkowski (Small School MVP) and St. Paul’s Sebastian Kyler (Large School MVP).


Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy Blue took the Varsity trophy in the Mercer CYO championship game Feb. 18. Courtesy photo

 


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