St. Mary’s Fifth Grade CYO girls garner county title
Baskets were hard to come by, but the final result was never in doubt. St. Mary’s of Manhasset defeated St. Martin’s of Bethpage 15-10 to win the Nassau County CYO Fifth Grade Championship Game at Kellenberg High School in Uniondale in February.
With the win, the squad completed a perfect season, finishing 14-0. Elle Giannopoulos, who attends Munsey Park Elementary School, paced the winners with 10 points while Maeve Colello of Shelter Rock ES added five.
St. Mary’s runs an extensive CYO program, and this championship squad was one of four competing at the fifth grade level. Head coach Peter Spinelli said he was an assistant coach last season and expected to remain one, but was asked to coach an additional team created in order to give participants additional playing time. His daughter Bianca is on the roster. He also coaches his sons’ sixth and 10th grade teams.
Asked what he hoped to impart at this age level, Spinelli replied, “Our goal for the season is to ensure the girls have fun while expanding their skill set, athleticism and understanding of the game in a safe environment where they can make new friendships. We achieved that goal and, proudly, we were also able to do it while getting each girl meaningful if not equal playing time in each game.”
Spinelli never dreamed that his charges would go undefeated, noting that finishing 10-0 in the regular season “was shocking. And then to go 14-0 through the playoffs and championship was exhilarating. Hearing the jubilant screams and seeing the smiles on the players’ faces after each win was truly a pure joy in life. Each week the girls improved—including two separate games where we hung on to win by only one point, which helped build our confidence. We were fortunate to have great parental support and great attitudes throughout the season.”
Asked for his final thoughts, Spinelli stated, “I cannot wait for next season. Every week I would look forward to that weekend’s game and do as much as I could to prepare for the upcoming game and to get the girls ready in our Thursday night weekly practice. I am excited to try to repeat the goal of having a fun season with either a new group next year or with this same group up at the next level.”
The coaches gave out the following awards at the championship luncheon:
Comeback Player of the Year
Best Sixth Person of the Year
Most Improved Player
Co-Most Improved Player and Team Spirit
Most Coachable Player
Best Dribbler and Overall Performance/Player of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Chairwoman of the Boards
Co- Most Valuable Players
Meredith Neckles and Elle Giannopoulos