As October has passed and we get set to roll the clocks back, it’s time also to roll back the events of the past month in the Del Val GOYA Basketball league and to see where our local teams stand as they close out the first month of the season. Because we all love lists, we thought we would boil down the month into five big takeaways as teams get set to hit their November stride.
St. Thomas: Late to the Dance, but in Midseason Form
It took four weeks for St. Thomas to get an opportunity to defend their undefeated title from a year ago. Still, when they finally took the court this weekend, they showed no signs of an early-season slump, as they took care of business against their cross-state rivals from Holy Trinity this past weekend with a convincing win in Egg Harbor.
From what I was told, it was a balanced and up-tempo attack that led the way, just like last year, making an early impression as they stand as one of only two teams unbeaten after October (and yeah, we know it’s only one game, but still).
On the bright side for the defending champs, they will only have to wait three weeks to play their next game, and what a game it will be as they take on St. Demetrios in a rematch of last year’s title game.
Speaking of Undefeated Teams
Holy Trinity Wilmington, a team that was on Mr. GOYA’s radar to make a huge leap this year, looks to be doing just that, as they closed out October with two wins over St. George Media and Holy Trinity of Egg Harbor, to sit atop the standings at the end of the month. Defense seems to be the name of the game as they have only allowed about ten points per game through their first two contests.
Like their fellow unbeaten team from St. Thomas, they will have a long wait for their next contest, when they will get a chance to test their unbeaten skills against the defending champs on their home court on November 24th.
Early Season Surprises
The two big surprises of the first month of the year both come from the same team, as Mr. GOYA’s preseason pick for MVP Alexia Louca, was out for the first two games of the St. D’s season, leading them to drop to 0-2 to start their quest for a title. Her absence paved the way for what I would say was the most surprising result of the first month of the year, as the girls from Media knocked off St. Demetrios last weekend 15-8.
That game could have big playoff implications down the line, as Media now finds themselves in third place at 1-1, having played two very tough teams early on. They will have a shot to get their second win of the year in a rematch of their opening game against Holy Trinity Wilmington on November 24th.
A Big First Step
Last season, a normally dominant girls’ team from down the shore struggled with a young core on their way to a winless season. This year the girls in blue took care of business early to ensure that would not happen again, Holy Trinity Egg Harbor were able to get their first win since 2017 on opening day against Mr. GOYA’s preseason favorite to win it all. Showing improvement up and down their lineup, and having played a very tough opening schedule, they sit in fourth place at 1-2. They will look to get back to an even record in a few weeks when they take on St. Demetrios once again at home in Egg Harbor on November 24th.
First Month Impressions and Changes
The first month of the season showed a fair amount of balance across the girls’ league, with the two Holy Trinities coming out of the gate with better starts than last year’s results would have indicated. Also, on the flip side, the absence of a key player has had the girl’s from St. D’s stumbling a bit out of the gate.
With so much basketball left to be played, Mr. GOYA is going to stick to his predictions on the MVP candidate, provided that she doesn’t miss any more time. However, if she does, and if St. D’s continues to struggle, I’ll be taking a long look at St. Thomas and Holy Trinity of Wilmington, who both have a number of prime candidates to take the award. As for who will stand atop the league in January, after one month, and yes, one game, I’m going to change my call. I think if St. Thomas can play with the same intensity we saw last year, they could complete their quest for a repeat when it’s all said and done this season.
St. George Kicking it Into High Gear Early
The defending champions from St. George Media look to have picked up right where they left off as well as they have cruised to a 3-0 record on the backs of that same high powered offense that led them to a title last season.
Led by reigning MVP Valantis Apostolopoulos, the boys from St. George have come out of the gates flying, averaging almost 65 points per game. Their most impressive win came this past weekend over St. Demetrios of Upper Darby 65-55, in what was a battle of the last two unbeaten teams heading into the day. The win leaves them at the top of the standings, with the only thing to slow them down, being a very long break before their next game on December 1st against Holy Trinity Egg Harbor.
The Quest for Next
Aside from any game involving St. George, the league has been highly competitive this season one month in, with a number of teams jockeying for playoff position and potentially that other first-round bye.
At the one month mark the current leaders of the logjam come from down the shore as the upstart boys from Holy Trinity Egg Harbor rallied from an opening day loss to St. D’s on their way to back-to-back hard-fought wins versus Holy Trinity Wilmington and St. Thomas of Cherry Hill.
Right at their heels are the boys from St. D’s at 1-1, along with fellow upstarts Holy Trinity Wilmington who sit at 1-2 along with Mr. GOYA’s preseason favorite to contend for the second spot in the finals from St. Luke’s.
Rounding out the league are the boys from St. Thomas, who, despite not having a win as of yet at 0-2, appear to have the league’s top defense, as they have held their opponents to just over 20 points a game to start their young season.
At this stage, there isn’t much-separating 2nd from last, which will make this year such a fun one to follow as the teams all settle it on the court in the next two months.
Any Early Season Surprises?
Actually, at this stage in the game, there hasn’t been much that would be called “surprising” from a results standpoint. St. George has dominated as expected, and really, at this stage record does not matter in determining seeds 2 through 6. On the MVP front it does seem to be a two-horse race, with Valantis Apostolopoulos and Alex Nicolaides both proving to be the top of the class, but don’t discount Dylan Sczotka, the sophomore sharpshooter from Holy Trinity, who has been a key factor in their surprisingly hot start this season.
There is still a lot of drama in determining that second bye, as well as who will grab the top quarterfinal spot, so we will look for a lot of great matchups in November to help tell the tale.
Like we just said, with so much to play for, November is going to be a key month in determining who falls where come January. There are a bunch of key matchups, including a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal upset this weekend in Broomall, when St. Luke’s hosts Holy Trinity in what should be a great game. I also really want to see the rematch of opening day between St. George and Holy Trinity Wilmington, which features the top two offensive teams in the league.
If you’re looking for defense, look ahead to Thanksgiving weekend when a rematch of this past weekend’s Jersey showdown between St. Thomas and Holy Trinity kicks off, featuring the top two defensive teams in the league. With so much left to play for, there is a lot to look forward to in the coming month of action.
First Month Prediction Changes
If you are asking if I want to change my St. George pick after seeing them score over 60 points a game through October, the answer is no. However, I did see a few teams take great steps forward in October, making me think that maybe the gap might not be as wide as I originally thought.
St. Demetrios seems to be the team best equipped to challenge the juggernauts, so while I am not changing my prediction for league champion, I am changing my runner up to St. D’s, whose combination of size and skill have what it takes to get through to the finals. The boy’s bracket is so jumbled though, that I could see anyone of the five, all depending on quarterfinal and semifinal matchups, filling this spot come January.
Thanks to Cosmos Philly and all of my helpers for contributing to this first-month recap. There is a lot to be excited about as we turn the calendar to November and hit the second third of the DVGOBL season. Kalo Mina!