Boys’ basketball competes in state tournament


Photo courtesy of Erik Slater

This year's boys' basketball team competed in the state tournament. Their season ended with a loss to Teaneck.

The boys’ basketball season came to an end with a loss in the state tournament after an extremely successful season. The team finished with a record of 19-9 overall and 8-2 in the Big North National division.

The top seeded Golden Knights had a good run in the state tournament as they took down 16-seed Montville in the first state game as senior Kevin Eifert had 16 points, senior Justin Minaya had 14, and senior Mike Patullo added 7 off the bench. They followed that with another win as they beat the 8-seed Northern Highlands with Minaya and senior Erik Slater leading all scores with 15 a piece.

In the semi-finals, NVOT battled fourth-seeded Teaneck in the rubber matchup between the two teams. In a packed gym and a crazy atmosphere, the Golden Knights fell 58-47 as Minaya had 23 points and Eifert added 10. Ultimately, one of the top backcourts in the state was too much to handle as Teaneck guards Ja’Quaye James and Leondre Washington both had 23 points.

NVOT was extremely competitive with top teams in the county the entire season. Aside from beating Teaneck once and having two other tight contests with them, they also played very close first halves with Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco, two of the top programs in the state. Furthermore, the team topped Dwight Englewood and Orange High School, with the latter being a four overtime thriller.

Minaya said, “I think that’s what our team was all about. We were good because we never backed down, no matter who we were playing, we always showed up to play.”

The team was led by seniors throughout the season including Minaya, Eifert, Patullo, Slater, as well as point guard Brett Franklin. Seniors Joe D’Amico and Chris Baker battled injuries yet still contributed when they were on the court. Junior Sal DeBenedetto also played tough defense and produced solid shooting off the bench.

Minaya said, “This season was fun with all the seniors. It was great playing one last season with all my teammates.”

Minaya, just named the Bergen Record’s player of the year, led the team in scoring and rebounding averaging 19.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, while Eifert consistently added a second scoring option in the paint.

The team will look to rebuild next year with DeBenedetto as well as juniors Brock Lombardi, Brian Baker and Bryce Nash. Underclassmen are already looking forward to next season as they will try and remain one of the top programs in the county.

DeBenedetto said, “We don’t want to rebuild. We want to reload so that we can stay at the high level we played at this season.”