Goshen Gladiators take first Section IX Championship in school’s basketball history

Coach saw leaps in leadership by three players and consistent accomplishment across the team.

Goshen /
| 23 Mar 2022 | 06:35

When hard work meets talent, skill and sense of purpose, the results may sizzle in the world of sports.

This was the case for the 2021-2022 Goshen High School boys basketball program and made the Gladiators champions this winter.

Goshen posted an impressive overall record of 18-3, and they were perfect at 12-0 as champions in OCIAA Division III.

One game in particular stands out as unforgettable for Goshen head coach Sal D’Angelo.

“For sure the most memorable night for us was our Section IX Class A Championship game versus Walkill (on March 3),’’ D’Angelo said. “Everything came together for us defensively for that game and it was an incredible environment. To cap it off, we won our first Section IX Championship in school history-no greater feeling than that.’’

Leadership was ever present on the court for the Gladiators this year.

“Our team this year was led by our big three of Luke Michalski, Jaidyn Rutling and DJ Brown,’’ D’Angelo said. “It was impressive to see two first time captains (Michalski and Rutling) ramp up their leadership as the season went on to the playoffs. As the stakes got higher, the control and composure they handled themselves with was impressive.

“Our third captain Craig Connell was injured for most of the year, but even through his rehab, he still remained incredibly impactful with his leadership day in and day out.’’

Improvements appeared across the roster for the Gladiators during this recently concluded season.

“I think what made this team’s journey incredible was the collective effort from our entire team,’’ D’Angelo said. “We finished the season with four players averaging double figures and a fifth player sitting right there at nine points per game. Any given night, any given circumstance, we had players ready to step up.’’

Among the obstacles that Goshen had to overcome throughout this past season was, not surprisingly, the covid-19 pandemic.

“Basketball is such a rhythm sport,’’ D’Angelo said. “I feel like dealing with the Covid pandemic affected our rhythm early in the season when we had a 10 day pause. I think we had only three games played as we entered the New Year after winter break. However, we dealt with it just like other teams did. We persevered and were blessed with good health the remainder of the season.’’

Something else that shouldn’t come as a surprise is that there is plenty of optimism for the future of the Gladiators.

The reasons for optimism? “Familiarity and continuity,”’ D’Angelo said. “While we do graduate five seniors, the majority of this team will be back looking to repeat as Section champions and hopefully remain playing deep into March.’’