Mr. GOYA’s Wilmington Tournament Recap and Awards

As we enter March Madness, I don’t know about you, but I’m suffering from a bit of basketball withdrawal. With both the PGBL and GOYA seasons in the books, with the Sixers actively trying to lose games, and with the NCAA tournament a few weeks away, I figured I would bridge the gap for all by writing a brief recap of what I saw and heard from the action at the annual Wilmington Tournament a few weeks ago (Yes I was there on one of the two days, and got some info from a few sources for the other).

Also, with all the talk about MVP’s in the college and pro game, I figured I would start a new tradition here on the site by creating an All-GOYA team (which is again, only one person’s opinion, but still, who says we can’t recognize even more kids for their accomplishments this season?) Let the debates begin!

Wilmington Tournament Recap

As a fan of the Delaware Valley league, it is always interesting not just to see how league play pans out as our teams face off against each other, but also to see how our teams do when they venture out to play the teams from around the Metropolis in, what I guess you can call, “out of conference” play. This year’s annual tournament hosted by Holy Trinity of Wilmington provided a fun-filled weekend of play, with 12 churches from around the Mid-Atlantic region facing off, and with 6 of those teams coming from our very own Del-Val league. Let’s recap the action.

Girl’s Tournament Recap

It was a tough weekend for the girls from the Delaware Valley on President’s Day weekend, as six out of the seven league participants took the court in tournament action on Saturday hoping to be one of the final three to advance to the trophy round on Sunday afternoon. With defending league champions Cherry Hill not in action, all eyes were on some of the other strong league contenders, including the defending tournament champions from a year ago in Holy Trinity of Egg Harbor, who were looking to avenge their upset defeat in the league semi-finals. On the day they would be the only team to advance to day two from the league, before they too were knocked off in the tournament semi-finals on Sunday by St. Nicholas of Baltimore, who would emerge as the eventual tournament champions. Give a lot of credit to the girls from our league though, as I believe three of our churches faced the eventual champions, who I was told from a source fielded two girls who will be playing college basketball next year. Still all in all I saw a lot of quality basketball played by our girls on the day.

Boy’s Tournament Recap

On the boy’s side of the equation, five of the six participating churches from our league fared about the same as their sisters on Saturday, including surprising two-and-out exits from two final four teams in Holy Trinity of Egg Harbor (last year’s tournament champions as well) and St. Luke’s Broomall, who played without youngster Greg Vlassopoulos on the day. Evangelismos of Philadelphia, the defending runners up in this tournament last season, also bowed out on day one in surprising fashion, in what one source described to me as “a very weird Saturday”. The one bright spot on the day came from our boys from St. Demetrios, who won the winner’s bracket on day one before ultimately falling in the finals to St. Nicholas of Baltimore on Sunday afternoon. Having to play without Chris Dawson on Sunday, the boy’s still represented the league well on the weekend, and showed why they were a league favorite to claim the title back in October before injuries derailed their season. Like the girls, the boys from our league battled hard against the teams from the south and west of the Delaware Valley, Hats off to all the boys on a great weekend.

Mr. GOYA’s First Annual All-GOYA Team!

Okay a couple of quick disclaimers. One, these picks are solely my opinion, and do not in any way come from the league or the coaches. Two, I know that I hear flack sometimes about being biased towards some teams or against others. I know it’s tough to believe but I am a fan of all of the teams in our league, win or lose, so there really is no bias against anyone I promise. There could honestly be 100 awards given to how great and talented our kids are (and lets face it, awards night comes pretty close to actually awarding that amount). Finally, I’m going to do this much like how the NBA does, only with a small twist. The NBA lists for each “team” two guards, two forwards, and a center. Given that our league has been, and will always be, guard heavy, and since there is really a lack of true “centers” (I can really only think of one on the boy’s side and two on the girl’s side). I’m going to have each “team” consist of three guards and two forwards. I will have a first team, a second team, and a third team, so fifteen boys and girls will be named. I’ll also try to touch on a few honorable mentions should I run out of slots once the fifteen are done, but feel free to post below if you feel I’ve missed someone. Here we go!

Girl’s Team – First Team

G – Despina Lianidis (Holy Trinity – Egg Harbor) – Simply put, the fastest girl in the league and the leader of a team that has lost two games in three years.

G – Francesca Bogiatzis (Evangelismos – Philadelphia) – The well-deserved league MVP, might be the most fundamentally sound player in the league.

G – Maria Kokolis (St. Thomas – Cherry Hill) – Speedy and crafty guard, the youngster led her team on an impressive championship run

F – Alexis Nakos (Evangelismos – Philadelphia) – Anchored one of the more dominant front courts in the league and showed great touch around the rim.

F – Maria Ana Pantelous (St. Thomas – Cherry Hill) – Slight favoritism on my part (only because of my bias towards hard-working players). Love the way she plays the game. Hardest working player in the league.

Girl’s Team – Second Team

G – Aggiro Potiris (Holy Trinity – Egg Harbor) – Often times overlooked on this stacked roster, she’s the second half of the top guard tandem in the league.

G – Corina Bourantas (St. George – Media) – The reigning Co-MVP, lead her team with hustle and tenacity on the season. Another great hard working player.

G – Christina Bourantas (St. George – Media) – Like her big sister, has a great drive and work ethic on the court. Took a huge leap forward talent wise this season.

F – Samantha Rhodes (Holy Trinity – Egg Harbor) – One of the few true centers in the league, has a great feel around the rim and is very technically sound.

F – Francesca Hourican (St. George – Media) – One of the great surprises this year, her late game surge and presence around the rim fueled the St. George Cinderella run to the finals.

Girl’s Team – Third Team

G – Stephanie Paras (St. Demetrios – Upper Darby) – Very technically gifted guard, led her team to a playoff spot once Irene Evangelopoulos went down with an injury.

G – Zoe Nikolos (St. Luke – Broomall) – Gifted scorer who can attack the basket as well and has a great feel for the game.

G – Pauline Raisis (Holy Trinity – Wilmington) – Very technically sound player who showed great promise in her first year in the league.

F – Maria Raptis (St. Luke – Broomall) – Another hard-working player who proved to be a great team leader for her team this season.

F – Alexi Terris (St. George – Media) – Great two way player who also has a gifted shot.

Honorable Mentions

Gina Nassar (Holy Trinity – Egg Harbor) and Irene Evangelopoulos (St. Demetrios – Upper Darby) are two girls whose seasons were cut short by injuries but who otherwise would no doubt have made this list. Very hard working rebounding machines around the rim.

Boy’s Team – First Team

G – Jimmy Armentani (Annunciation – Elkins Park) – Best player in the league and clear-cut league MVP, led a shorthanded Elkins Park team to a two-loss season and a near Final Four berth.

G – Anastasios Gjejede (St. Demetrios – Upper Darby) – Incredibly smooth play and high basketball IQ, led an injury-plagued St. D’s team to a near round one upset.

G – Cameron Elliott (Evangelismos – Philadelphia) – Probably the most prototypical “3” in the league, but plays more from the outside and has incredible finishing ability around the rim.

F – Antonio Nakos (Evangelismos – Philadelphia) – Strongest player in the league with amazing quickness and touch around the rim.

F – John Nutaitis (St. Thomas – Cherry Hill) – Not just about the height. His midrange game and touch capped off a championship run for St. Thomas.

Boy’s Team – Second Team

G – Greg Vlassopoulos (St. Luke – Broomall) – Look out league, this youngster displayed MVP-like talent before ever stepping foot into a high school.

G – Alex Malaspina (Holy Trinity – Egg Harbor) – Possibly one of the shiftiest guards in the league, also his team’s emotional leader on the court.

G – Andrew Karolidis (St. Thomas – Cherry Hill) – One of the top two-way guards in the league, shined brightest on Championship Sunday.

F – Athanasios Mertis (Holy Trinity – Egg Harbor) – The “thunder” of the Holy Trinity frontcourt, shows incredible strength in anchoring the interior for his team.

F – Yanni Dendrinos (Holy Trinity – Egg Harbor) – The “lightning” for Holy Trinity, has great slashing moves to the basket and boasts a great rebounding rate.

Boy’s Team – Third Team

G – Dino Matulas (Holy Trinity – Wilmington) – Pure scorer and one of the quickest end to end guards in the league. Led his team to a near playoff berth in their first year back in the league.

G – Vasili Mantsos (Evangelismos – Philadelphia) – The calming force for the boys from the Boulevard, facilitated the Evangelismos offensive attack on the year.

G – George Karidas (Annunciation – Elkins Park) – Been raving about him all year. Almost unquestionably the most improved player in the league and forced defenses to abandon any thoughts about double-teaming Armentani.

F – Chris Palmieri (St. Luke – Broomall) – The youngster showed some flashes of brilliance, especially down the stretch and into the playoffs. Best is yet to come.

F – Greg Daskalopoulos (St. George – Media) – A matchup nightmare in the paint who also developed an outside game on the year from what I saw. Also one of the great sportsmen in the league.

Honorable Mentions

Obviously had Chris Dawson not been injured for most of the season I would have vaulted him into these rankings (hoping he comes back with a vengeance next season) and had Panos Tzinoudis not suffered an unfortunate injury late in the season he would have gotten a strong look as well. Youngster George Arsenis has to be mentioned on the guard side as well but it is tough to crack this guard heavy list (I could see him being a mainstay on here for years to come). Also on the guard side, St. George fans have to be wondering if their season might have gone a bit differently had they had a healthy Panos Skoutelas for the full season (also one of the great kids in the league I’ve been raving about him for years). For the bigs, Georgio Karadonis and Christos Moscharis also anchored their teams front courts on the year and deserve praise for their efforts. For St. D’s fans, don’t think I forgot about Alex Dawson who also has to be praised for anchoring an undersized front court all season, as well as being one of my favorite kids in the league.

Hopefully this gives everyone a little basketball fix as we head through Lent and the offseason. I’m excited and already looking forward to next season! Finally, as Mr. GOYA is a fan of all our kids in all they do, I would be doing a disservice if I did not with all of our kids the best of luck as they set aside their basketball shoes and pick up their microphones, paintbrushes, instruments, and dancing attire in the coming weeks for the annual Sights and Sounds competition. Have a great time down in Egg Harbor everyone!