SPRINGFIELD, NJ - This season marks the five-year anniversary of the Dayton boys basketball team’s remarkable 22-6 season that led them to the NJSIAA Group 1 Championship at Rutgers University back in 2012.

When the 2017-18 campaign begins Saturday afternoon at rival Brearley (1 p.m.) in Kenilworth, the Bulldogs will rely on three key seniors and a host of juniors to start, perhaps, another historic state tournament run.

Senior guard Antonio Salcfas returns to lead the Bulldogs offense, coming off a second-team-leading 316-point season (14.4 points per game average, including 22 3-pointers). Senior center-forwards Ryan Lashuk (3.2 ppg) and Anthony Rajoppi (3.5 ppg) both return to lead a strong front court.

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“Our key returnees are our three seniors: Ryan (Lashuk), Anthony (Rajoppi) and Antonio (Salcfas). Sophomore guard DJ Alicea (5.8 ppg) was moved up from the junior varsity team at midseason last year and gained some quality experience,” said Dayton head coach Bobby Martin, who begins his 12th season at the Mountain Avenue school and 33rd overall in his career. “We have a junior group that is returning from a very successful JV season last year as well, which includes: guard/forward Eugene Atkinson, guard Evan Berkowitz, guard Jaykwaan Chito, forward Robertson Espinosa, center Anthone McNeese, guard Rafael Felix, guard Jonluis Fonseca, guard Vinny Pulice and guard/forward Jonathan Stapleton.”

Last season, the Bulldogs recorded its second straight 11-13 record, ending its season with a 77-47 loss as the sixth-seed at third-seeded Hoboken in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 quarterfinals on March 2nd.

“It’s still early right now, but I’m excited about this group. They’re great kids and students and we enjoy working with them each day. There’s great competition in practice which we are counting on to make us better when the games start,” said Martin. “Our goals each year remain the same - for each player to be the best version of themselves and give maximum effort, embrace competition, and play hard together. If we do that, we’ll be in the mix for our conference, qualify for the state tournament, and play for a sectional title.”

The Brearley season opener begins a three-game road trip to start the season for the Bulldogs with a matchup against rival New Providence on Tuesday, December 19th (7 p.m.) and a trip to Roselle Park on Thursday, Dec. 21st (5:30 p.m.).

The Bulldogs’ home opener will be in the Joe Pepe Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 27th at 5:30 p.m.

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