Boys’ Basketball Team Takes Home Title


Mr. Crisafi

The eighth-grade boys’ basketball team went on a tear after opening the season 0-2.

In Head Coach Mr. Derek Harse’s final act before leaving Benjamin, he brought the school another trophy and banner.  Through hard work and dedication, he and the eighth-grade basketball team brought a twenty-ninth banner to the middle-school gym by beating Jupiter Christian 35-22 in the Palm Beach Independent Schools Association (PBISA) championship on February 11.  After losing the first two games of the season, the Bucs won eight of their next nine to cap another championship season, their second in a row and third in four years.

“I believe they were motivated by the results of the tough first two games,” said Harse.

“They immediately responded to higher expectations in practice and came together as a team.”  

“The 0-2 start [was because] we were playing a brand of selfish basketball,” said Assistant Coach Mr. Jeffrey Cavallo. “The team [then] grew individually and collectively and they started to play unselfishly. I think that was the key to our season. A lot of the players were very good. They came into the season playing very well, and throughout the course of the year, each player improved individually.”

The players agree.

“After our first two games, we decided to play more like a family and not get mad at each other in practice,” said eighth-grader and starting shooting guard Ryan Gikher.

While talented players are the key to any title, the eighth graders give a lot of credit to their coaches.

“The coaching was good,” said eighth-grader and starting shooting guard Ryan Gikher. “Coach Harse and Coach Cavallo knew all the right plays and right defenses to match up against our opponents.”

“The coaching was fantastic,” added fellow eighth grader and shooting guard Dylan Richman. “They made the team feel like a brotherhood. They always had the right plays to go up against our opponent’s defense.”

The team was also equipped with both mental and physical toughness – another factor that propelled the Bucs to victory.

“My favorite part of the season was when we beat King’s Academy with 10 seconds left after being down by 11 [points during the semi-final game],” said Gikher.

According to the coaches, this characteristic was just as important as the team’s unselfish play.

“Toughness was a trait that I think made them win the championship,” said Cavallo. “They were a very scrappy group. They never quit and they played together as a team. I think Coach Harse did a great job. He is very organized, detail-oriented, and he had high expectations for the players.”

Soon after leading the team to another title, Harse left TBS to become the recreation supervisor for the Jupiter Recreational Center. He’s most proud of the way the team came together.

“The team had a wide variety of skill levels, but more importantly, every player improved their individual skill level and learned to work together as a team,” said Harse. “My favorite part of the season is being able to look back and recognize how much improvement took place in two-and-a-half months from an individual and collective perspective. This team will always be special to me, and to finish the season by winning the championship over a rival was the perfect way to end it.”