St. Hubert High School faced Nazareth Academy in the first-ever “Holy Wars” basketball tournament on Sunday afternoon. The showcase was designed to match hoops teams from the Philadelphia Catholic League against those in the Catholic Academies League in a fun yet competitive game.
Swarms of fans packed St. Hubert’s gymnasium on Sunday for the showcase. The Bambies got off to a stellar start, netting 16 points in the first quarter while holding Nazareth to just five. By halftime, Hubert had a 27-19 lead.
But Nazareth dominated the second half of game action — especially the final quarter, when they rallied for 25 points and a 58-48 victory.
“It’s something that we’ve talked about over the last couple of years. This was the first year we actually got everybody scheduled,” Saint Hubert coach Brian Kuzmick said of the Holy Wars tournament. “Our original thought was to have something that showcased the Northeast teams. We thought it would be good for the area and also good for the leagues.”
Nazareth senior forward Danielle Gasperi led the Pandas in scoring with 21 points. Senior guard Bridget Sobon and junior forward Nicole Dombrowski each had 12 points.
St. Hubert senior Eireann Anastasi led her squad with 16 points. Junior forward Charlotte Kucowski added nine.
“I like the tournament. A lot of those girls (Nazareth players) are actually teammates of mine from the Rockers,” explained Anastasi, referring to the Northeast Rockers AAU team. “There was definitely some trash-talking before the game. It was a lot of fun. I love the competitiveness. It’s fun and I love playing.”
Anastasi — an All-Catholic selection and four-year varsity starter for the Bambies — has embraced her leadership role this season. She leads her squad in scoring thus far averaging 15 points per game.
The Bambies have four returning players this season. Senior Ashley Bieringer, a center, earned ample varsity experience last season and will again have a starting role. Junior Charlotte Kucowski and sophomore Biff Jones are also expected to contribute greatly this winter.
“We’re coming together. We want to finish better than when we started … just keep working hard and improving ourselves,” said Anastasi. “Our quickness and working together are definitely our strengths. We always put out a lot of effort. We never give up and we work well together.”
Over the past four years, Anastasi has become a cornerstone of the Bambies’ basketball program. The guard has helped her squad reach postseason play throughout that time.
“I think she stepped into the starting lineup three or four games into her freshman season and she’s been going ever since,” recalled Kuzmick. “The kid has unbelievable talent.”
A regular on the courts “as long as she can remember,” Anastasi teamed up with the Crispin Gardens, St. Jerome’s and the Northeast Rockers before competing at the high school level.
Also a soccer player, Anastasi played locally for the Lighthouse Soccer Club; for the past four seasons, she has been part of St. Hubert’s team.
“Basketball is my favorite … definitely,” said Anastasi, 17. “That’s what I want to focus on next year at college.”
Anastasi, an honor student in the classroom, has narrowed her college choices to Eastern University and Cabrini College. She wants to major in business or psychology.
“I haven’t really decided yet,” she said. “I’ve always liked working with numbers and accounting, but this year I took a psychology class and loved it. It was really interesting.”
In the meantime, Anastasi is doing all she can to ensure that her last high school basketball season is a successful one.
The Bambies have a grueling schedule ahead, including bouts with powerhouses like Archbishop Ryan, Archbishop Wood and Lansdale Catholic. St. Hubert also will travel to Atlanta, Ga., from Dec. 26-29 to compete in an annual holiday hoops tournament.
“I’m really excited,” said Anastasi. “In previous years we’ve gone to Reading, Pa., and Washington, D.C., but this is our first big trip.
“We should have a good season,” she added. “I think we have a talented team. I’m comfortable and confident out there.” ••
Editor Melissa Yerkov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org