St. Raphael’s rallies in semis and scores upset in finals to win CYO March Madness title

The St. Raphael's 5th-grade basketball team

St. Raphael’s 5th-grade basketball team used a frenzied comeback in the semifinals and then sprung an upset in the finals to claim the CYO March Madness Tournament.

Trailing rival St. Gregory’s by four with 30 seconds remaining, the Saints rallied for a one-point victory. Joey Riley drained a 3-pointer and coach James “The Mayor” Angiolino called timeout to draw up a play for a steal.

“Otherwise, we are fouling,” the Mayor said.

No foul was necessary as St. Raphael’s stole the ball and Riley drove to the hoop before dishing to Nicholas “The Councilman” Angiolino, who hit a wing jumper at the buzzer to win it.

“It was a huge win,” James Angiolino said. “It’s like a Duke vs. North Carolina type rivalry.”

The Saints did not suffer a letdown as they went on to defeat Robbinsville, 34-31 in the final.

“We were a definite underdog against Robbinsville,” Angiolino said. “They’re a very good team, well coached and aggressive. Our defense led to offense.” Angiolino was assisted by Tom Klena, and other team members were Jayce Palumbo, Tommy Ditta, Anthony O’Rourke, Nolan Arnold, Josh Klena and Bobby Lipsett III.

About The Author

Rich Fisher has been around the Hamilton Township sports scene for so long that he actually got Rich Giallella’s autograph when Giallella was still a player! Proud product of Hamilton YMCA and Lou Gehrig baseball leagues and former teammate of Jim Maher on a very average Barton & Cooney rec basketball team, Fish graduated from Nottingham Junior High and Steinert High school and has covered township sports since 1980. His goal in life is to convince Maria Prato that Jersey tomatoes are at least 100 times better than California tomatoes.