2001-03-31 / Sports

St. Camillus Soars to Division Title

By John Ronayne and Emanuel Jalonschi

In a hostile gym pulsating with energy, the St.Camillus Junior Boys (11th/12th graders) exorcised a year-old demon and finally topped arch-nemesis Gate of Heaven to capture the Glendale/Rockaway division title.

Despite falling behind 10-0, the resilient Shamrocks overcame their early-game jitters and actually surged to a double-digit lead by the fourth quarter.  However, Gate of Heaven's ferocious full-court press unnerved the "Boys from the Beach" and a slew of turnovers helped whittled their lead to a precious two points with just three minutes remaining.

Aided by the clutch free-throw shooting of Sylvanus Mbachu and relentless board work of Taylor Murphy and Anthony Coleman, the Shamrocks were able to preserve their lead down the stretch.  When a Hail Mary 3-pointer at the buzzer caromed harmlessly off the backboard, a wild championship celebration ensued.  Throngs of delirious parishioners who braved the grueling, treacherous journey to Ozone Park stormed the court and feted their teen-aged heroes.  The customarily aloof adolescents momentarily abandoned their tough-guy facades and reveled in their accomplishments with childlike

glee. As courtside photographers frantically snapped pictures, they managed to capture the rewarding culmination of  teamwork, discipline, and self-sacrifice.....

                  .....In late October 2000, New York City was flush with excitement over the historic Subway Series.  At about that same time, a talented yet fragmented collection of Rockaway Beach high-schoolers assembled for training camp of the 2000-01 basketball season.  The previous season had been an utter disappointment, and expectations were not exactly lofty.  Two rather humbling defeats to start the season did little to bolster sagging spirits, and another lackluster campaign beckoned.  However, Coach Sal LaLumia remained upbeat and urged his charges to follow suit.  Practices became more intense as members of local men's leagues were enlisted to scrimmage with the Shamrocks. Quite suddenly, a complete veneer of confidence overcame the once doubt-ridden outfit.  And most importantly, they recognized the virtues of the team concept.  While several players excelled individually, the Shamrocks began to exhibit an on-court selflessness not commonly witnessed at this level.  After starting the season 0-2, the Camillus Clan reeled off 10 lopsided victories in the 11 subsequent games before their date with championship destiny.

Why the sudden turn-around? Quite simply, the God-given talent and uncompromising heart of 10 unique personalities with a common goal....

   Taylor Murphy (C)-- A graceful 6 foot 5" leaper, Murphy emerged as the unquestioned leader. Despite a gaudy (21ppg) scoring average, he is that rare player who can dominate a game without cluttering a boxscore.

Also starring at John Adams High School, college recruiters have already begun to salivate over this kid.

   Brian Covington (F)-- Murphy's teammate at Adams, this spindly sophomore is the prototypical small forward slasher.  Runs the floor exceptionally well and maintains his composure in any game circumstance.

   Anthony Coleman (F)--His messianic arrival in Week 3 altered the entire course of the Shamrock season.  Blessed with astounding leaping ability and a heavy arsenal of offensive moves, he will likely emerge as the primary option during Camillus' upcoming title defense.  At a mere 16 years old, he still has 2 years of eligibility.

   Sylvanus Mbachu (G)-- hen not quarterbacking the Beach Channel Dolphins Varsity football team, this immensely talented youngster helmed Camillus' potent motion offense.  His unflinching poise during the heated title game was nothing short of brilliant.

   Jamall Cobbs (G)-- Unquestionably, the fastest player in the entire league. Sometimes erratic, always explosive crowd pleaser will man the point guard position for two more seasons.

   Chris Doyle (G)-- After an injury-riddled season during which he only played 3 regular games, Doyle played savior during the championship run.  His tenacious defense and contagious energy elevated the entire team. Complete disregard for his body yielded a team-high 8 offensive fouls.

   Greg Grosetto (F)-- Team captain with one of the deadliest jump shots on the peninsula.  Fan favorite never complained about playing time and displayed a flair for keeping teammates loose.

   Danny Quinn (F)--Quintessential role player who consistently provided energy, rebounding, and defense.  Offensive skills have improved by leaps-and-bounds since season opener.

   Javed Rambaran (G)-- Perhaps the greatest practice player in league history--consistently "lighting-up" perplexed teammates. Unfortunately, a crowded roster prevented him from earning the minutes needed to fully showcase his skills.  Good luck at Binghamton!!

Anthony Piccone (F)-- Despite suffering a broken nose in Week 6, tough-as-nails power forward returned to provide valuable minutes off the bench.  Without question, the hardest working kid on the roster.

Not to be overlooked are the contributions of Coaches Sal LaLumia and Charles Nopper.  Their leadership and support were crucial in steering these boys to the Promised Land.

Sal LaLumia, in an interview with the Wave just before press time, pointed out the tremendous coaching job done by John Ronayne and further expressed his gratitude toward Father Dunne and Bill Swenson.


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