The second round of play featured the Sacred Heart boys pushing their offense full throttle, defeating Resurrection Ascension 70-44. This game featured scoring from the big man, Shaun Coribello, who led the team with 23 points, and 15 points from Matthew Fox, but the story of the game was the 3 point shooting exploits of TJ Ritter, who nailed six 3 pointers to blow the game open! As fans implored TJ to take another attempt, he passed the ball to open teammate as the clock ran out. Six will have to do!
Next up for the Heart squad was St. Stans. This game was more of a defensive struggle, with neither team looking pretty in their efforts to score. The defensive stars for Sacred Heart were Eugene Dolphin, Marco Lobosco, and Justin Rodriguez, as well as Chris Falci, who returned from a broken wrist to make a solid contribution. The leading scorers for Sacred Heart were Fox with 9 and Vinny Difinizio with 8.
The game played to determine who would face St. Thomas the Apostle in the championship game was against friendly arch-rivals St. Helens. Over the years, folks know this is usually a classic match up, with both teams playing for their schools as well as personal bragging rights as most players and fans have become friends over the years. This one played out close as expected, with Sacred Heart emerging victorious 38-34 in a well played game. The leading scorers for Sacred Heart were Difinizio with 17 and Fox with 12. Also contributing scoring but more importantly top notch defense and ball movement was Nico Yuvienco.
The championship game played out like it should have, with both teams competing in a game much closer than the final score indicated. Shaun Coribello’s aggressive play allowed Sacred Heart to handle the enormous front line of St. Thomas. Rodriguez and Lobosco were once again stellar on the defensive end. Rodriguez continues to provide a clinic for anyone wanting to learn how to box out their opponent. Nico played unselfishly, moving the ball around to his open teammates and, as was the theme throughout this game, also hounding the ball on the defensive end. The pivotal play of the game occurred late in the 4th quarter, with Sacred Heart clinging to a 2 point lead. As St. Thomas rushed to the hoop, Vinny Difinizio stood in their way, got barreled over, and as the ref screamed “offensive foul”, the Sacred Heart faithful erupted. The game, which was almost tied if not for Vinny’s play, was put away at the other end when Lobosco, always on the move and in the middle of things, tipped an errant shot back to Fox, who nailed his second try of the game to extend the lead and Sacred Heart never looked back. Leading the scoring attack was Fox with 16, Shaun with 10, and 6 apiece for Nico, Lobosco, and Vinny.
Congratulations to the entire team for the victory as well as a head coach Joe Mannarino, Jr. and his assistant, Joe Nieto. Sacred Heart would also like to thank St. Margaret’s and especially Gary Conti & Joe Menna for the exceptional hospitality displayed during the tournament games.