Don’t look now, but as we approach the New Year, we are already passed the halfway point in the 2013-2014 Delaware Valley GOYA Basketball League. Entering its 34th season, the DVGOBL features teams of GOYAns from around the region, stretching from the Northern and Western Philadelphia suburbs all the way down to Southern New Jersey. As has been a tradition for over three decades, players gather each Sunday from around the league to engage in fun and fellowship, as well as to represent their home parishes in play. This year the DVGOBL, under the leadership of Youth Commissioner Father Anastasios Bourantas and League Commissioner Jim Contoudis, expanded to incorporate a Junior Varsity league to allow younger-aged GOYAns the opportunity to have fun and improve their skills, as well as to encourage participation at all ages. As the league has been in full swing since the beginning of October, Cosmos Philly takes a look at the teams as they stand going into the stretch run of the season and into the playoffs, which will commence in February.
Standings in recaps reflect the standings as of 12/15/2013
- Annunciation Elkins Park (5-0): Don’t look now but the boys from the Northeast are at it again. It’s hard to imagine, but this team has only lost one game in the last three years, and led by the senior trio of Laz Makrides, Stef Zoubroulis, and George Armentani, these boys look primed to make a run at a third consecutive championship. Continuing their tradition as an offensive juggernaut, coach Yianni Fisfis and his boys have asserted themselves as the team to beat with impressive back-to-back wins versus championship contenders Holy Trinity Egg Harbor (64-55 on November 24th) and Evangelismos Philadelphia (57-35 on December 1st). The only team that stands in the way of their second undefeated regular season in three years is St. George Media (January 12th in Broomall).
- Holy Trinity Egg Harbor (5-1): One year removed from a heartbreaking loss in the championship game, the boys in blue look to rebound and contend for their first boy’s championship in their church’s history. We all know the reigning league MVP Vasil Stoimenov has the ability to single-handedly dominate opposition with his offensive and defensive skill sets, but it has been the quiet resurgence of senior guard Roman Papademetriou that has really impressed, with his ability to create shots for himself as well as get to the basket. Coach Anthony Panetta’s boys, led by their combination of tenacious defense and transition offense, started the season on a hot streak, winning their first five games before falling in a rematch of last year’s final with Elkins Park. Holy Trinity caps off their season (January 5th in Egg Harbor) against Evangelismos of Philadelphia, in a game that looks like it may be a preview of a semi-final matchup to come.
- Evangelismos Philadelphia (5-1): The “Big Boys from the Boulevard”, led by coach Jim Contoudis, look like a team very much in contention to get back into the title game for the third time in four years. It’s no secret what makes this team tick: their immense size (with the trio of Antonio and Konstantinos Nakos, and Elias Apsis) and incredible defense, this team poses a nightmare matchup for nearly every team in the league. Evangelismos has bounced back from shaky starts in games against St. Thomas of Cherry Hill (November 3rd) and St. Demetrios of Upper Darby (November 17th), but when they are playing to their fullest potential, led by elite slasher/scorer Dylan Kanter, this team is a force to be reckoned with come playoff time, as was evident by the early scare they gave Elkins Park (on December 1st). Evangelismos closes out their season with a big matchup with Holy Trinity of Egg Harbor (January 5th).
- St. George Media 1 (2-2): One year after nearly pulling off a monumental upset in the semi-finals of the DVGOBL playoffs, the new-look (love the uniforms!) St. George boys, led by Coach Jim Kemmerer, look to make some more noise this year. Guard Thomas Kopatsis has done an excellent job in leading his team out of the gate, and with the size and length of the Media front court (with Greg Daskalopoulos, Phil Kemmerer, and Chris Moscharis making it a nightmare for opposing teams in the paint), this team could surprise teams this year come playoff time. Media opened their season with an impressive defensive showing against St. Thomas of Cherry Hill (24-23 on November 10th) and just recently gave Evangelismos a very tough game (a 39-32 loss on December 15th). Looking ahead, St. George has a rematch of last year’s thrilling quarterfinal game vs. St. Demetrios Upper Darby (January 5th in Upper Darby) before finishing up with undefeated Elkins Park (January 12th in Broomall).
- St. Demetrios Upper Darby (1-3): Wow talk about a tough start to your season! The boys from St. Demetrios played their first three games against the top three teams in the standings! Despite coming up on the losing end of all three, Coaches George Pagiotas and Steph Karas have to be happy with the effort their boys are giving out, opening their year with an overtime thriller versus Egg Harbor (October 13th) and holding a lead through three-plus quarters versus Evangelismos (November 17th). The boys from Upper Darby have demonstrated an impressive combination of size and speed on both sides of the ball, led by the superb guard play of Anastasios Gjedede and the workmanlike effort on the boards from big men Alex Dawson, Alkis Tsitsios, and Chris Nakos. Coming off their first win of the season (an impressive 40-19 performance against St. Thomas on November 24th), St. D’s looks to keep the momentum going into the new year, with games versus St. George Media (January 5th) and St. Luke Broomall (January 19th) that will undoubtedly have playoff implications.
- St. Luke Broomall (1-4): Like St. D’s, St. Luke’s also had to start their season against the “Big 3”, and actually gave Elkins Park a tough game before Annunciation pulled away late (55-38 on October 13th). A team with loads of talent, led by veterans Jason Demetris, Evan Palmieri, and Aris Tsingiropoulos, and headed up by Coach Chris Nikolos (who I believe is the longest tenured coach in the league), Broomall has had a tough time putting together a complete game thus far, and in my opinion is a lot better than their record indicates. When they are clicking on all cylinders, and especially when complimented by the hot scoring touch of youngster Dean Pritchard, this team can compete with anybody in the league. St. Luke’s kicks off 2014 with a HUGE game against St. Thomas of Cherry Hill (January 5th in Cherry Hill), in what could possibly be a battle for the 6th (and final) playoff spot.
- St. Thomas Cherry Hill (1-5): Size isn’t everything in basketball but it certainly helps, and St. Thomas of Cherry Hill has bought into that mantra this year all the way, with newcomer John Nutaitis providing a huge (and I mean huge) boost to their frontcourt, complimenting veterans Bobby Zografos and Konstantino Dambalas around the rim. St. Thomas rebounded from a tough opener against Holy Trinity and played a very competitive game vs. Evangalismos (a 43-39 loss on November 3rd). Propelled by a backcourt of lockdown defender Andrew Karolidis, the hot shooting of Elias Riginos, and the all-around play of newcomer Lustin Manteanu, coach John Gratsias has all the tools to make a run in the playoffs if they can sneak in. A win-or-go-home game vs. St. Luke’s (January 5th) may actually be the most important game left on the schedule in the boy’s league.
- St. George Media 2 (0-4): The young guns from Media have impressed me tremendously with their ability to play up in the A-league, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Led by the aggressive attacking play of Angelo Karakasis, these boys have demonstrated constant heart and improvement, with back-to-back impressive showings against Evangalismos (December 1st) and St. Luke (December 15th). Coach Jim Kemmerrer has to be incredibly proud and impressed with the effort his boys are showing out there. With three games left in their season, whether or not these youngsters can knock off one of the contenders (headlined by an interchurch showdown vs. St. George 1) remains to be seen, but I do know for sure that, after watching them play, the future is bright for St. George.
- St. Thomas Cherry Hill (5-1): I think it’s safe to say Coach John Pratsinakis and his girls have taken the league by storm this season. One year removed from grabbing the last spot in the playoffs, the girls in red have positioned themselves as the team to beat in the league this year, opening up their year with a stunning victory over defending champion Egg Harbor (October 27th), and following up with an equally impressive victory over Evangelismos of Philadelphia (November 3rd), these girls are doing it with a combination of big-time defense, timely scoring, and overall team chemistry. Led by the superb guard play of Maria Kokolis and the relentless hustle of Maria Anna Pentelous, these girls are going to be tough to beat come playoff time. With two games left to go (vs. St. Luke’s Broomall on January 5th and vs. St. George 2 date TBD) winning out could put St. Thomas in an excellent position to contend for their first championship since 2009.
- Evangelismos Philadelphia (4-1): The girls from Evangelismos, like their boys, get it done with size and aggressive defense. This year has been no exception, as Coach Jim Contoudis’s girls tenacity, led by one of the top guards in the league in Francesca Bogiatzis and a frontcourt anchored by Marianna Zisis and Alexis Nakos, have grinded out impressive quality wins over St. Demetrios (November 17th), St. Luke (November 24th) and St. George (December 15th). A one point loss to St. Thomas (on November 3rd) has been the only stumbling block for a team whose size and toughness is unmatched in the league. The Evangelismos girls kick off their 2014 versus the defending champions from Egg Harbor, with huge playoff seeding implications for both sides. Based on the eye test this team looks like a serious threat to capture their first title in the program’s history.
- Holy Trinity Egg Harbor 1 (4-1): The defending champions, following a shaky start, look to have righted the ship in their quest for a third straight championship appearance. Coach George Efstatos’s girls are propelled by their feisty backcourt defense, spearheaded by one of the fastest players in the league in Despina Lianidis. That pressure, coupled with the frontcourt play of sisters Janelle and Gina Nassar, have this team “believing in blue” yet again. Following a tough loss to Cherry Hill (on October 27th), Egg Harbor has rattled off three straight wins, including a quality win in the championship rematch vs. St. Lukes (on November 10th). Games remaining vs. Evangelismos (January 5th) and St. George 2 (January 19th) could put this team anywhere from 1st to 5th in the standings, but they are certainly a force to be reckoned with yet again.
- St. Demetrios Upper Darby (4-2): The St. D’s girls, after a tough opening two games vs. Egg Harbor (on October 13th) and Evangelismos (on November 10th) have been on a hot streak, winning their last three, including handing the top-seeded St. Thomas their only loss of the season in an exciting matchup (on November 24th). Led by one of the top post players in the league in Irene Evangelopoulos and veteran Evana Mortezavi, these girls definitely have the tools to compete for a championship. The coaching staff of John Mylonas, Amelia Economou, and Olga Zografakis have done an excellent job of making key in-game adjustments during the season, which have paid huge dividends in seeing them climb back up the standings. A tough matchup against Media 1 (January 5th) awaits the St. D’s girls after the new year.
- Holy Trinity Egg Harbor 2 (3-2): Don’t look now but it appears there is more than one game in town down the shore. Holy Trinity’s B team, led by their solid point guard Aggie Potiris, are threatening to make Egg Harbor a 2-bid church in the playoffs this year. Could we possibly see a Holy Trinity vs. Holy Trinity game in the playoffs? A stunning upset victory over St. Luke’s girls (on November 27th) may be the win that makes this a possibility). Upcoming matchups vs.Evangelismos (January 5th) and St. George 1 (January 12th) will prove key in seeing if these young girls can hang on to a playoff spot. Either way the coaching staff has to be proud of the youth movement going on in Egg Harbor.
- St. Luke Broomall (2-3): The defending runners-up in the league last year are looking to find their groove after a tough 0-3 start to their season. With back-to-back wins against St. George 1 (December 1st) and St. Demetrios 2 (December 15th), they appear to have done just that. Coach Chris Nikolos and Tami Tsingiropoulos have done a great job in leading a young group of girls into playoff contention. Maria Raptis and Zoe Nikolos spearhead a group of girls that are small in stature but more than make up for it in all-around speed and quickness. For years this has been a team that peaks at the right time, having pulled off playoff upsets in 2 of the last 3 years. The girls have a tough road ahead of them, with important games vs. St. Thomas (January 5th) and St. D’s 1 (January 19th) still upcoming.
- St. George Media 2 (0-3): A tough start to their schedule for the young girls from St. George, having played 3 of the top 5 teams in the standings, but these girls have a lot of fight to them. Coach Alex Terris has to be happy with the effort he is seeing from his girls, especially the solid defensive effort put forth in their last game against Evangelismos (December 1st). With a solid core of young girls, and a handful of games left on their schedule, don’t be surprised if you see this team make a little noise in January.
- St. George Media 1 (0-4): Like their younger sisters, St. George 1’s record has more to do with who they’ve played than how they’ve played, having played 4 of the top 5 current seeds. Led by all-around performer Callie Terris and the premier point guard play of Corina Bourantas, these girls have played every one of those games close, including a four-point loss to Holy Trinity (November 17th) and a one-point loss to Evangelismos (December 15th). A big day of games lies ahead for Coach Alex Terris and his girls, as they have a double-header vs. St. Demetrios (January 5th) that will tell us a lot about where they will stand come the end of the season, but I see these girls as a team that nobody wants to be matched up against come February.
- St. Demetrios Upper Darby 2 (0-5): The “baby blues” from St. D’s have done a fantastic job of competing against bigger and older competition this year, and the improvement and experience they are gaining is starting to show. A very hard-fought loss against St. Luke’s (December 15th) can leave these girls feeling very good about the progress they have made thus far. A very exciting matchup vs. St. George 2 (January 5th) will matchup two of the younger teams in the league in what should be a fun test of both teams progress to date.
Written by Mr. GOYA