Championship rematches, family rivalries renewed, battle of the unbeatens leaves lone unbeaten in St. Thomas
As we close the book on the month of October, the unofficial first third of the Del Val GOYA Basketball League wrapped up this weekend in St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church in Cherry Hill. The day featured four varsity matchups, four unbeaten teams, and a lot of headlines.
It would begin with a rematch of last year’s thrilling girl’s championship between the defending champs of Evangelismos Philadelphia, and the runners up in Holy Trinity Egg Harbor. The second matchup of the day would feature two long-time family rivals in the nicknamed “Koumbari Bowl,” with the defending boy’s champs of Evangelismos taking on the struggling Holy Trinity boys. The later afternoon games would feature the hosts from St. Thomas taking on the visiting St. George Media, with the girl’s game featuring a rematch of last year’s third-place game. The boy’s game was featuring the clash of two early-season unbeaten, in a battle for the top spot in the DVGOBL Boy’s standings. If you’re a fan of Greek basketball in the Delaware Valley, Cherry Hill was the place to be this Sunday.
Game 1 – Holy Trinity (EHT) Girls vs. Evangelismos Girls
In a rematch of last year’s instant classic, the girls from Evangelismos, coming off a tough opening game loss to St. Demetrios last weekend, would look to rebound against their long-time rivals from the shore in Holy Trinity. For the girls in blue, who have started off hot yet again this season, the game would prove to be their toughest test to date. Led by the young standout Marianna Papazoglou, Holy Trinity jumped out to an early lead. The defending champs would show their resilience, however. Led by Alexis Nakos, the girls in black hung tough throughout the game, cutting the lead to four in the second half. That is as close as this game would get, however, as foul trouble would cause the champs’ comeback effort to fall short, in a hard-fought game that could, yet again, prove to be a playoff preview come January. Fortunately for us, we won’t have to wait that long, as the two teams, placed in the same division this year, will face off again in two weeks in Egg Harbor. Final score – Holy Trinity 20, Evangelismos 12
Game 2 – Holy Trinity (EHT) Boys vs. Evangelismos Boys
In the second game of the day, the boy’s defending champs from Evangelismos, fresh off their impressive opening game victory against a tough St. D’s team, looked to continue their momentum against the boys from Egg Harbor, who, just like last year, have struggled out of the gate. Just like last year, and just like we have come to expect throughout this great rivalry, you can throw records out the window when these two teams face off. The defending champs, led by youngster John Armentani and standout guard Joel Mattos, relied on their speed and finishing ability at the rim to generate waves of offense throughout the game. Not to be outdone, however, the boys and blue kept pace with the defending champions, led by senior forward Saki Mertis, and the strong outside shooting of George Arsenis. This game would go back and forth throughout, with each team making runs from start to finish. When the dust settled, it was the boys from Egg Harbor who would emerge victorious with the upset. Just like the girls, these two teams will get to match up again in round two of this great rivalry in just two weeks’ time. Final score – Holy Trinity 45, Evangelismos 40
Game 3 – St. Thomas Girls vs. St. George Girls
Speaking of great rivalry matchups, the third game of the day featured two teams who have played some incredible games over the past few years. The thrilling double-overtime semi-final classic of 2014 and the equally amazing championship game of 2015 have set the stage for this as one of the great contests of the girls’ season each year. This year, both teams headed into this contest coming off losses to currently unbeaten teams, as St. Thomas had to start off with not one, but two games against Holy Trinity, while St. George played a tough St. Luke’s team after suffering their first loss of the young season. On the day it would be the girls from St. Thomas, led by Maria Kokolis, who would squeak by in yet another close contest. St. George held strong throughout, led by reigning MVP Christina Bourantas, but ultimately fell just one bucket short, in what proved to be a contest of two great teams on Sunday. The girls from St. Thomas will look to ride their momentum into their contest with St. Luke in two weeks, while the girls from St. George will head to St. Demetrios to face off against Upper Darby on November 13th. Final Score – St. Thomas 20, St. George 18
Game 4 – St. Thomas Boys vs. St. George Boys
In the primetime game of the day, the hosts from St. Thomas would look to ride their strong 2-0 start in a matchup with the equally impressive 2-0 St. George boys, in a battle for the top spot in the boy’s division. St. Thomas relied on their strong interior play in knocking off Holy Trinity twice early on, while the boys from St. George have leaned on their speed and hot shooting in winning their first two games, including what many may call an upset overly the championship favorites in St. Luke last week. The question would be, which style would carry the day? In the end, it was the visiting St. George boys, led by the hot shooting of Chrisovalantis Apostolopoulos, that would emerge victorious in decisive fashion. St. Thomas battled hard, led by senior big man Kosta Dambalas, but foul trouble and the hot shooting of St. George proved to be too much on the day. The win puts St. George atop the standings heading into a big week five matchup with St. Demetrios in two weeks, while the loss drops St. Thomas to 2-1 heading into their game against St. Luke’s on November 13th. Final Score – St. George 53, St. Thomas 38.
The league will take one week off this coming weekend to celebrate the award recipients for the Metropolitan Ambassador’s banquet but stay tuned to Cosmos Philly for all the future action as we near the halfway point of the 2016-2017 DVGOBL season.