Boys’ Basketball Crossing Over To Best Season In Years


Photo by Erika Sousa

Junior Darell Sweeting goes for a dunk. Sweeting has been an integral part to the team’s success this year.

Catherine Civitella, Staff Writer

The 2022 boys’ basketball teams’ season is well underway with a current 13-5 record. With team leaders such as senior Mark Cueto, junior Carter Smith, and junior Gavin Aydelotte, they have come together on and off the court.

Their season has been hindered by injuries and COVID-19 problems, but the team has prevailed and come back stronger. Smith had an injured ankle for the beginning of the season. Being a starter, this affected the team in a serious way. While Smith was out over winter break, Cueto, another starter, was diagnosed with COVID-19. With two main players out, a big game against Wellington was a fearful sight. Smith showed up to support the team to keep spirits high.

Juniors Micah Mays and Nico Frezin stepped up and exceeded all expectations placed on them, only losing by one at a buzzer-beater shot. Despite the loss, it grew the team more than they thought they could ever grow. Once Smith and Cueto returned, they had a successful few wins with many difficult games ahead of them.

A team is centered upon its leaders, and while the boys’ basketball team has many mature players, Cueto is the sole senior. Cueto has done everything he can do to always be a supportive, welcoming, and strong teammate. Cueto has based the way he behaves as a team leader off of his freshman year.
“My favorite year was probably my freshman year because it was a new school, and I didn’t know many people, and the seniors took me in as if I was family. Leaders like Ben Lubarsky, Lowell Carr, and Kaiir Elam were a great group of guys to grow up under.”

According to Cueto, they taught him how to be the leader he is today. He believes that it’s not only about proving yourself on the court, it’s about the personal relationships that are formed off of the court. Cueto expresses the mutual respect that his seniors showed him and how that’s what he “tries to help them on and off the court, creating a personal relationship so that they know they have a support system behind them.”

Smith overcame his broken ankle that occurred on Dec. 28. He missed many big games that he wish he had the opportunity to play in, including against Wellington and Jupiter. Despite missing these games, he saw his teammates come together and rise to the occasion, which he was inspired by. Smith believes that “the people who didn’t play as much earlier in the season stepped up while playing the number two team in the state in the 3A district. Even though we lost, the team chemistry that I saw from the sidelines was amazing and I really hope we carry that into other important games”. According to Smith, “the team chemistry is a lot better than last year directly resulting in our better record.”

Junior Sanjae Moncrieffe, junior Darrell Sweeting, and Aydelotte have also been large contributors to welcoming the younger boys. Sophomore Christian Balistreri is playing his first full year on the Varsity team. He has described the team leaders as “welcoming, and never singling me out because I was younger”. In previous years, Balistreri heard of controversy among the players, but this year being on the team, he has seen for himself the truth behind the rumors. “The team chemistry is really good, because of the new group of people. We all like playing with each other, and we understand each other’s individual games”. Balistreri has realized that part of the team’s chemistry comes from the desire to win.

“There was a revolutionary moment for me where I saw two of our players arguing because of the last few plays. Seeing them take a breath and talk it out showed me how understanding and open this team really is”. While watching the team chemistry fizzle together mid-game, Balistreri believes he has a good base for the future and hopes to carry on the legacy that his teammates will leave behind.

The Benjamin School hopes that the boys’ basketball team stays healthy and happy. With great team chemistry, raw talent, and connection, the team has unlimited potential.