EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The boys basketball team of the Alfred S. Faust Intermediate School has been on a mission to win this year, and it ultimately won the Bergen Youth Basketball League Championship.
The team had two returning All-Stars in Nick Mitarotonda and Michael Renta. These 8th-graders were voted as team captains, alongside Tanner DeRiso. The Wildcats opened their season with a dramatic away win versus Teaneck Charter School. Over the next few games, the Wildcats' strong defense led them to wins versus Alpine, South Hackensack and Dumont Selzer as well.
Faust suffered its first loss on Jan. 5, against undefeated Maywood. The Wildcats received a great performance from 6th-grade point guard, Jahlil Bethea, but it wasn't enough to pull off the victory. But the next day, the team came back with a win in Little Ferry. The team then also beat Bergen Arts, Dumont Honiss and Lyndhurst.
The Wildcats finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed and a bye into the semi-finals of the BYBL Championship. On Feb. 9, the Wildcats played last year's tournament champion, Dumont Honiss. The Wildcats won that game 47-29 and got a chance to beat the only team that beat them this season.
Two days later, Memorial School in South Hackensack was packed for the championship game. The Wildcats won with a score of 50-42, and four players scored in double digits: Peralta, Mitarotonda, Bethea and Renta.
Wildcats Mitarotonda, Renta, Brian Peralta, and Bryan Catala were chosen to play in the BYBL All-Star Game the next night. Teammate Mahdy Suleimon won the Free Throw Competition, as well.
The Wildcats finished the season with an overall record of 11-1.