On a cloudy Sunday in late January, the focus of the sports world of the Greek Orthodox community in the Delaware Valley was not in the NFL Super Bowl Semi-Final matchups, but rather on the semi-finals of the DVGOBL playoffs down the shore in Egg Harbor, NJ. The final four teams in both the boy’s and girl’s divisions squared off in an action-packed Sunday filled with great matchups. When the dust settled on the evening, the championship clashes were set as two boy’s and girl’s teams each advanced to the championship game next weekend in Wilmington.
Game 1 – #1 Holy Trinity Girls vs. #4 St. Luke Broomall Girls
As we said in the preview, the big key to this game would be, could the girls from Egg Harbor, unbeaten on the season, shake off the rust and pull out a win against a tough St. Luke’s team that was fresh off a big quarterfinal win two weeks ago. Early on it looked like the rust was still there, as the girls from St. Luke came out strong, and held tough for the entire first half, trailing 11-8 going into the break. That is as close as the game would get though, as the girls in blue woke up in the second, behind a great defensive effort, and a strong offensive performance by Marianna Papazoglou, who led all scorers with 14 points. The girls from St. Luke did all they could to slow down the top seed, but in the end they just ran out of gas. The girls from Egg Harbor with the win advance to their fifth championship game in the past six seasons, and will look to cap off their undefeated season this Saturday. Final Score – Holy Trinity 21, St. Luke 10.
Game 2 – #1 St. Demetrios Boys vs. #6 St. Thomas Boys
In a clash of the two of the all-time winningest programs in league history, the top-seeded boys from St. Demetrios, with a record of 7-1 heading into the game, looked to fend off the upset-minded boys from St. Thomas of Cherry Hill. For St. Thomas, having already pulled off an upset in the first round, the boys from Jersey were hoping to make history by becoming the first #6 seed to ever advance to a league championship. Much like the first game, it was a tale of two halves, as both teams battled back and forth in a hard fought and competitive first half, with the boys from St. D’s taking a 3 point lead at halftime. In the second half, however, it was all Upper Darby. Led by the tandem of Laz Louca and Chris Dawson, the speed and tenacity of St. Demetrios was too much for Cherry Hill to handle. Kosta Dambalas did all he could to keep his team in it, scoring half his team’s points, but the tough shooting night for St. Thomas also ended any hopes of an upset bid. For the top-seed from St. Demetrios, who fell just one shot short of a title berth last year, they will look to add to their league-high ten championships in team history this Saturday, and will look to capture their first championship since 2010. Final Score – St. Demetrios 37, St. Thomas 22.
Game 3 – #2 St. Thomas Girls vs. #3 St. George Media
Game three featured what might have been the most highly-anticipated matchup of the day, as the second-seeded St. Thomas girls looked to get back into the championship game, taking on the girls from St. George Media, who have provided some of the great contests in recent playoff memory. After a slow and defensive-minded first quarter, the girls from St. George jumped out to a 10-2 halftime lead, and clung to a 13-7 lead going into the fourth quarter. Led by Christina Bourantas and Alexi Terris, who would combine to score all of their team’s points on the evening, the lower-seeded girls seemed to have everything under control. Give credit to the girls from St. Thomas though, as they came out with a full-court press in the fourth quarter and cut into the St. George lead with just over two minutes to go. Ultimately the comeback effort fell short though, as the girls from Media were able to hang tough and pull away late, punching their ticket to next Saturday’s final against the girls from Egg Harbor, and giving us our first upset of the semifinals on the day. Final Score – St. George 23, St. Thomas 14.
Game 4 – #2 Holy Trinity Egg Harbor vs. #5 Evangelismos Philadelphia
This game had all the makings of a “Koumbari Bowl” classic… until it didn’t. For three quarters the home boys from Holy Trinity and the upset-minded boys from the Boulevard battled in a high-powered back-and-forth contest. Holy Trinity’s high-powered offense, led by young guard George Arsenis, jumped out to several 8 point leads throughout the game. Each time it seemed like the boys in blue would pull away, Evangelismos answered. Led by the hot shooting of John Armentani, Evangelismos continuously cut into the Holy Trinity lead but could never quite take the lead themselves. Finally, as the third quarter came to a close, a disqualifying technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct was issued to Evangelismos, similar to the controversial semi-final game of two years ago between St. Thomas and St. Luke. After a delay in action and much deliberation between the coaches, referees, and league officials, the game was called and Holy Trinity was declared the winner. An unfortunate ending to what was shaping up to be a great final game between these two rivals, but the result has Holy Trinity back in the finals for the fourth time in five years, as they look to capture their team’s first ever boy’s championship. Final Score – Holy Trinity 29, Evangelismos 28.
As a reminder to all fans, the championship games will be held this Saturday (not Sunday) at Holy Trinity of Wilmington. Stay tuned to Cosmos Philly for a championship preview later in the week, as well as continuing coverage of the finals this weekend. Congratulations to all teams, and best of luck to those competing in next week’s final games.