NEW CASTLE — Marnie Giunta of Padua Academy was the Tubby Raymond Award winner as Delaware’s coach of the year, but two of the other four award-winners had a distinctly Catholic flavor.
Donte DiVincenzo, the Salesianum School graduate who is now a rookie with the Milwaukee Bucks, was selected as the John J. Brady Athlete of the Year. DiVincenzo was the Most Outstanding Player of last year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament after scoring 31 points in the championship game to lead Villanova to a 79-62 win over Michigan. He had five three-pointers that evening, five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. He also set a record for most points in a Final Four game for a player coming off the bench.
He was selected by the Bucks with the 17th pick in the 2018 NBA draft and had a strong start to his rookie season, scoring a career-high 15 points on Oct. 27 vs. Orlando. He has battled injuries and has not played since Christmas Day.
DiVincenzo could not attend the President’s Day luncheon, but his parents, John and Kathie, accepted the award on his behalf.
The Team of the Year went to American Legion Post One, which won the American Legion World Series last summer in Shelby, N.C. Nine of the players on the Post One roster are graduates or current students at Catholic high schools. The manager, Brent Treml, is an assistant coach at Salesianum.
Treml attended the luncheon, as did four players. Treml said the team was proud to represent Delaware and that he has seen the profile of Legion baseball rising in the state.
“We were thinking we had a chance to make it to the World Series,” he said.
Post One, he said, responded to adversity well, winning by a combined score of 24-4 after its three losses. They needed extra innings on more than one occasion, including in the championship game, in which they defeated a team from Las Vegas in eight innings, 1-0. In that game, St. Mark’s graduate Austin Colmery drove in the winning run in the eighth inning, scoring Salesianum alumnus Matt Poma. Chris Ludman, another St. Mark’s graduate, threw eight shutout innings, and Nate Thomas, who graduated from St. Elizabeth High School, ended up making ESPN’s top play for the day after a spectacular diving stop and throw to end Las Vegas’ half of the eighth.
Eric Ludman, a St. Mark’s senior and member of Post One, attended the luncheon. He said the team would think about all the people watching back home, but once they hit the field, it was about baseball.
“We were all friends growing up around the same community, and having my brother on the team, it was just awesome. We’re just playing another baseball game, another catch in the back yard,” he said.
He looked at the list of previous winners and was proud to be included among them.
“It’s a true honor,” he said. “Props to the whole team, how we came together throughout the whole year.”
There were two other awards. Duffy Samuels, a graduate of Glasgow High School, received the Herm Reitzes Award for community service. Samuels runs Duffy’s Hope, a basketball and education program for underserved youth in Wilmington. Sussex Central High School student Tyler Blades earned the Buddy Hurlock Unsung Hero Award. Blades started running a few years ago after a cardiologist warned him that his weight would likely kill him if he didn’t change his life. He is now a member of the school cross country team and has lost more than 100 pounds.