The future of the Dallas boys basketball program is looking bright.
The current eighth-graders reached a league championship game for the second straight year and the seventh-grade class just wrapped up an undefeated West Side League championship.
Both Dallas Middle School teams took part in the Feb. 15 league championship doubleheader at Wyoming Seminary after winning West Division titles.
“Doug Miller, the (high school) head coach, is very involved with the teams at the Middle School level,” said eighth-grade head coach Vito DeLuca. “He’s been at a number of our games. His fingerprints are all over what we’ve done at the eighth- and seventh-grade levels.
“All the teams work together.”
After falling to Crestwood in the championship game last year on the seventh-grade level, this year’s eighth-grade class went 14-1 to win its division and return for another shot.
Dallas rallied from a 15-point deficit in the championship game while trying to avenge a 3-point, regular-season loss to GAR.
GAR held on for a 43-41 win.
Dallas went 9-for-12 from the line in the fourth quarter while cutting into the 34-23 GAR lead.
Michael Farrell hit all four of his foul shots while scoring 10 of his 16 points in the quarter.
Lee Eckert finished with 10 points and Dalton Gattuso added five.
Jason Anderson and Nico DeLuca were the team’s other starters.
Paul Zablotney, who missed the playoff game because of an injury, was one of the key reserves along with Ethan Szczecinski, Collin Pertl, Charles Giacometti and Zach Charlton.
Cody Coolbaugh, Christo Huntington, Justin Marshall, Connor Phillips, Ryan Phillips, Jim Powell, Jacob Serafin, Jacob Stritziner, Joey Thompson and Andy Zehner complete the roster.
Mark Farrell is assistant coach.
“They’re very unselfish,” said coach DeLuca, who has led most of the group that has played together since being part of a travel team in fourth grade. “They probably make one pass too many more often than they don’t pass enough.
“They’re all good friends.”
The seventh-grade team, coached by Jim Gattuso, went 15-0 in league play then topped Solomon/Plains, 29-20, in the league championship game.
Andrew Kovalick, Jay Bittner, Mason Gattuso, Matt Mathers and Brody Strickland scored in the title game. Coach Gattuso credited David Shuster, David Chopyak, Nick Kocher, Alex Charlton and Ben O’Connell for their strong defensive play.
Gattuso, Mathers, Kovalick, Shuster and Kocher formed the starting lineup for much of the season.
Charlton, Bittner, O’Connell and Chopyak were the top subs on a large roster.
“We had 28 kids when we started the first day of practice and we finished with 28 kids,” said coach Gattuso, who was assisted by Ted Kocher and Doug Chapman.
Gattuso said much of the team’s success came from teamwork and working on fundamental skills, such as dribbling drills, as part of every practice.
The remainder of the team roster included Joshua Holdridge, Christopher Murray, Adam Borton, Joshua Lydon, Joseph Parsons, Nate Maransky, Zachery Bloom, Evan McClain, Steven Finarelli, Matt Dillon, Bradley Adams, Edward Zochowski, Edward Grabowski, Max Dzugan, Joshua Jarden, Malik Kaleta, Michael Huntington and Joshua Wyandt.