Lakers, Celtics capture NJB titles

The Newport-Mesa City Championships featured plenty of heroics and drama at Corona del Mar High last week. The local National Junior Basketball league was grateful to use the gym at CdM. The players made sure to leave some lasting memories there.


Lakers 31, Thunder 26

Division 1 boys

Grades 7-8

The NJB Boys Division 1 City Championship game featured a battle between the 10-2 Thunder coached by Tom Joyce and Chuck Cargile and the 11-1 Lakers coached by Dan Whelan. In a fierce defensive struggle played in front of an enthusiastic crowd the Lakers prevailed.

The Thunder were led in scoring by center Nick Borquez (nine points) with Grant Joyce and Nick Ursini contributing seven and six points, respectively. Brandon Cargile, Angelo Ursini and Ethan Assar provided the pressure defense with Keegan Schonfeldt and Connell MacLean pulling down the rebounds to keep the Thunder close.

In the end, the veteran Lakers were too much for the Thunder and won the championship while finishing their season on a 12-game winning streak. It was a hard fought battle with Adam Freeman scoring nine points and Jake Whelan contributing eight points for the Lakers. Borquez pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds for the Thunder.

The Lakers also featured Sam Skinner, Cole Thomas, Jimmy Ashbey, Layson Savant, Gage Thomas and Blake Kormos.


Celtics 34, Wolverines 28

Division 2 boys

Grades 5-6

In the first game was a very competitive matchup in which the Celtics, coached by Tony Swies, won.

The Celtics won in a defensive battle over the top-seeded Wolverines in a hard-fought contest.

The Celtic leading scorers were Zack Swies with 13 points and Billy Shannon with 10 points. It was a team effort with a well managed game by Celtic point guards Miles Aguilera and Jarret Thompson.

There was an excellent defensive effort by Paul Vrebalovich, who had four blocked shots, five rebounds and solid free throws shooting at key moments of the game.

Outstanding defense was played by Jimmy Solano (two steals and three rebounds), Kobe Beard (two rebounds and two steals), and defensive specialist Luke Palazzo who harassed the quick and well coached Wolverines guards and also scored four points. To the Wolverines (coached by Charlie Wilde and Jim Binford) credit, they entered the game with a 12-win undefeated regular season and met a Celtics team that would not be denied.

Wolverines down by double digits much of the second half mounted a furious comeback but at the end fell to the Celtics.

Mick Hamilton, scoreless in the first half, caught fire and scored 10 points in the second half including a clutch three-pointer in the final moments. All in all it was a season to remember for the Wolverines, finishing the season 12 wins and the sole City final loss.

Consistent with most regular season games, all Wolverine players scored executing the vintage weave offense and made plays in the contest. Eann McKasson and Max Morris split time at the point, Jack Elliott and Hamilton on the wings, and Ryan Binford, Will Harvey and Brian Bailey playing inside. Henry Wilde was tormented by a broken finger and was not able to play in the final.

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