SPRINGFIELD, NJ — On a night where the Jonathan Dayton community honored senior members of the boys basketball and cheerleading teams, DJ Alicea put the team on his back one last time in the regular season for a 62-47 win over Delaware Valley.
Alicea led all Bulldogs scorers with 24 points, and Cameron Campbell-Miller added 16 of his own to pace the home squad. Ethan Kunzmann, Craig Baran and Justin Kolpan all led the terriers in scoring with nine points apiece.
After the game, Coach Bob Martin, Alicea and fellow senior Arshad Lassiter all spoke with TAPinto about the special night and the outcome.
"It was a lot of emotion going into the game," Martin said. "Certainly the focus was there. The one thing I could feel right at the beginning was that this team was ready to go out there and put it on the line for these seniors. That was evident right from the beginning."
He continued, "I don't know what the exact number is, but this is another game where we've held our opponent to less than 20 points at halftime. And it's just the effort, and we could see it right from the beginning. So I'm proud of them, and certainly happy for those two seniors, that they could walk off the court tonight with a victory."
For Alicea, being able to walk off the home court for the final time in his regular season Dayton career as the all-time leading men's scorer in program history is an incredible moment.
"It's a blessing, honestly, to just be able to be that person," Alicea said And that's something that's always gonna be here. And my legacy will always be in this school. So it feels really good honestly."
And as Alicea noted when speaking with the players in the huddle before the game, he said it was time to go out and play. After these next two games, Dayton will get ready to play in its first state tournament game at American History. As Alicea said, he will look to throw the records out the window and just play.
"Honestly, I'm looking to go as far as possible, Alicea said. "Once the regular season is over, everything is 0-0. Whatever you're ranked in your section, it doesn't really matter. Anything is possible. So I'm just looking to go as far as I can with my guys while I'm still here."
Lassiter spoke about the environment at last night's contest, and said the energy was infectious.
"It felt great, just having our home fans there, cheering us on. And our families. We're very close with our families, just having everyone there, cheering us on, it meant a lot to both of us. And it felt great for them to see it too. Hopefully we can keep this energy into the state tournament."
And just like Alicea, Lassiter wants to make a good a run in states with the time he has left on the Jonathan Dayton Boys Basketball team.
"We're looking to get that ring, that's what we want...this year, we're looking to change the history, get what we felt we deserved last year, get that this year," Lassiter said. "I think we have a good group of guys that can do that. Younger people, older people. Mesh that together, beautiful things can happen when we're all on the court together."
Dayton's next game is Feb. 24 at Caldwell, with a 4:00 p.m. tipoff, and then the Bulldogs stay on the road, wrapping up their regular season at Cranford with a 7:00 p.m. start on Feb. 27.