After losing eight seniors this past year, including Streetsboro’s fourth highest scorer Jerry Judd lll, the Varsity boys basketball team had some big shoes to fill.
“Going into this year, I don’t think a lot of people had a lot of expectations for us because of our youth,” said head coach and middle school teacher Nick Marcini. “We knew how good we could be, though. I think we are to the point in our program where we always have high expectations, which is good. I thought everyone stepped up this year, as virtually all roles needed filled with the loss of those seniors.”
This year’s team consisted of three seniors who had no previous experience playing on the Varsity level. This led to players from all grade levels stepping up to help the team finish with a winning record of 14-9.
Those graduating from the team this year are captains Noah Benson, Cory Gillings and Mitchell Delambo.
“Our seniors did a great job leading the way,” Marcini said. “Noah’s leadership throughout the season will be hard to replace. Cory and
Mitchell’s work ethic and hustle on a daily basis was unmatched.”
Delambo received the Coach’s Award for his display of character and leadership on the court.
Gillings averaged 10 points per game, received Second Team All-PTC, the Co-Mr. Hustle Award from Marcini on awards night and was chosen to play in the Greater Akron Basketball Coaches Association All-Star game.
Benson earned Honorable Mention All-PTC, Most Improved honors for the team, and has signed to continue playing basketball at Wright-State Lake Campus
Aside from three seniors without Varsity experience, junior Keshun Jones was a bit of a wild card at the beginning of the year due to his absence all last season. Jones had been out due to a foot injury. Jones, however, bounced back and ended up averaging over 20 points per game.
“I feel free and happy when I’m playing, like I have something to prove,” Jones said. “I will forever remember creating a bond with my teammates and I enjoy playing with them.”
Jones received numerous awards for his performance this season: Special Mention All Ohio, First Team All-District, First Team All-PTC and GABCA All Underclassmen Team.
He and fellow junior Braden Tucker both received MVP awards from Marcini.
The Rockets may have been one of the youngest teams in the league, but this did not stop them from reaping the benefits of the sport and making their mark. They walked away with numerous awards, Marcini’s 100th win and a new family.
The only returning letterman was Tucker who, along with Benson, took control as
a team leader and helped run the show. Tucker resumed his old role from last year as point guard, and continued to prove his worth with 10 points per game.
He was awarded for his efforts with Second Team All-PTC and Honorable Mention All-District.
Tucker also beat the school record for most assists in a single game, with 12, against Ravenna.
Both Tucker and junior Will Butler carried a different burden going into this season.
“My brother’s gone, so
that’s different,” Tucker said. “I miss playing with him and seeing him every day.”
Alumnus Jared Tucker and Ty Butler started last year, and their younger brothers had the opportunity to continue the family tradition this year.
Will Butler transitioned well into his new position, becoming the team’s best defender, accordi
ng to Marcini.
“I’m playing with people I’ve never really played with before, and it’s my first year really playing Varsity,” Butler said. “I want our team to win the league because we haven’t done it in a while, and I think we are good enough.”
Butler received Honorable Mention PTC, along with
the Mr. Hustle Award, with Gillings.
The basketball family had even closer ties this year with the Benson and Delambo brothers. For more on the Bensons click here.
Freshman Nehemiah Benson was the youngest player on the team, but he refused to let that hold him down, earning First Team All-PTC this year along with Jones. The younger Benson was also named Newcomer of the Year by Marcini, and was selected for the Ohio Basketball Coaches Association Top 100 Showcase.
The Delambos had a unique relationship, for while Mitchell’s twin Bradley Delambo does not play the sport, he supported his brother and classmates in other ways.
Bradley Delambo provided all of the video footage and editing for the team, and was always on the sideline to cheer on his brother.
Despite the doubt that followed young players, the team persevered as a family with strong leadership, strong work ethic and strong school pride found everywhere, on and off the court.