Upper Darby, PA – They certainly made it exciting early on. St. Thomas and Holy Trinity (EHT) gave us a great effort last night at St. Demetrios in the boys and girls championship basketball games. In each of the first half, we kept our eyes glued to two performances that could best be described as valiant.
In the girls’ championship game between St. Thomas (NJ) and Holy Trinity (EHT), we were treated to a battle that featured two scrappy and hungry teams. Led by Marianna Papazoglou of Holy Trinity and St. Thomas’s Maria Kokolis, this clash of two titans of the league didn’t disappoint. In fact, early on, St. Thomas jumped out to an 11-7 lead in the first period. They had managed to pressure Holy Trinity into a series of turnovers early on.
By the second quarter, the girls in blue went on a tear outscoring St. Thomas and taking control of the tempo. They held St. Thomas to just one bucket in the second quarter and managed to score 8 more, giving them the lead at halftime 15-13. The full court pressure also helped St. Thomas to return the favor and to turn over the ball, enough to give Trinity the lead through halftime.
Marianna Papazoglou of Holy Trinity had already scored ten points in the first half and was perfect from the line. But she was just getting started. When the third quarter kicked off, Holy Trinity went into what appeared to be, fast break mode. Each rebound was kicked out to the side or lofted forward to Papazoglou who dribbled right through the defense of St. Thomas. And by the end of the third quarter, the lead which was three was now doubled, 24-19.
Holy Trinity had broken away and continued to go on another run as the fourth quarter started, buy leading by as much as 8 points. The full court defensive attack St. Thomas initiated in the latter part of the third quarter, got them within three. But by now, Holy Trinity had found their game. When the final buzzer sounded, Papazoglou had racked up 24 of her teams 35 points and had closed the door on their second consecutive championship. When asked how they pulled it off, Holy Trinities coach said, “it was our defense. Its what ultimately was the difference”.
Final Score: Holy Trinity (EHT) 35, St. Thomas 24.
Just like we described in the preview, this was a David and Goliath story. Goliath being St. Luke and Holy Trinity being David. St. Luke had the size and the talent, while Holy Trinity had the heart. But, unfortunately for Holy Trinity’s boys, the myth would remain just that. The boys of Holy Trinity gave us a great effort. Their scrappy effort in the first half held the St. Luke team, and their star MVP Greg Vlassopoulos to only five points in total.
The situation was helped by the fact that the sleeping giant St. Luke appeared to be, well, for lack of a better word, sleeping. Turnovers, poor passes, and lousy rebounding gave Trinity the spirited boost and belief it needed. Their problem was scoring. The rock wouldn’t drop. Holy Trinity’s George Arsenis ran the length of the floor and penetrated at will throughout the first half. But they just couldn’t score. Arsenis could only muster up four points by the end of the first half.
However, Trinity’s scrappy efforts were rewarded as St. Luke continued to play as if it was a slumbering bear, waiting for the first signs of spring. This kept Trinity close. At halftime, St. Luke only led by a score of 17-15. But that was all they wrote.
The third period belonged to the sleeping giant St. Luke, who finally woke up. Greg Vlassopoulos of St. Luke, took command of the game as he ran the floor dribbling through the defense and dropping seven more in the third period. Holy Trinity did not respond. They fell further behind, only scoring four points. Next, to the first period, where they only scored two points, this quarter was disastrous.
Even though they managed to control the boards on offense, and their defense gave them many turnovers, they just could score. Their leader, George Arsenis only scored two points the second half which was not going to be enough. And no matter how tough and scrappy they played, there’s just so much you can do to hold back Greg Vlassopoulos. He’s going to get his points.
By late in the fourth quarter, Vlassopoulos turned it on, dominating both under the basket where he controlled the rebounding for St. Luke, and steering the ball at will on the court. He led all scores with 24 of his teams 37 points as St. Luke went on to claim the championship.
Final Score: St Luke 37, Holy Trinity 28.