One of the state’s best boys basketball players will be in and out of the lineup for the rest of the season.
St. Andrew’s center Ben Bentil has been ruled to be a fifth-year senior by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association. He is allowed to play against out-of-state teams and Delaware Independent School Conference teams, which allow fifth-year seniors to participate in athletics. But he is not allowed to play against other DIAA member schools.
“We look at it like sometimes a guy gets injured and you’ve got to play without that guy,” St. Andrew’s coach Terrell Myers said. “But he’s great. He’s been handling it great. I’m proud of him. He’s been a leader, and he’s continuing to get better.”
Bentil has only had to sit out one of the Saints’ first seven games, a 52-45 loss to No. 4-ranked Archmere on Dec. 12. Barring any change in eligibility, he will not be allowed to play in five of St. Andrew’s final 12 games. Bentil must sit out against Glasgow, Smyrna, Dover, St. Georges and Brandywine.
The 6-foot-8 senior makes a huge difference in the Saints’ lineup, averaging 17.5 points per game. He had 25 points and 16 rebounds in a 66-45 loss to No. 1-ranked Sanford on Jan. 14, and 31 points in a 55-42 victory over Wilmington Friends on Saturday. Bentil signed a national letter of intent with Providence College in November, choosing the Friars over Georgetown and Miami.
Bentil came to the United States from Ghana at the age of 15. He spent his freshman year at Haverford School (Pa.), then transferred to St. Andrew’s.
Myers said Bentil attended a school in Ghana from May to July before his freshman year. But without sufficient documentation to prove that claim, the DIAA has interpreted that to count as a full year. Myers said St. Andrew’s is working to prove Bentil attended school in Ghana for only three months, in hopes that the DIAA could reconsider its ruling before the season ends.
St. Andrew’s is 2-5, as the Saints have played only three in-state games and have been tested against some of the top teams in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. St. Andrew’s is allowed to count games involving Bentil in its state-tournament points index, but without a new ruling Bentil will not be allowed to play in the state tournament. Myers said St. Andrew’s has not decided whether it would accept a postseason bid if the school qualifies, since the tournament falls during the boarding school’s three-week spring break. The Saints have played in the tournament the last two years.
“We’re fine,” Myers said. “Our thing is to go out there and play competitive basketball against good teams. We’re not worried about the state tournament. At St. Andrew’s, we come out here to compete and play basketball. That’s it.”
Pandas on track
The Padua indoor track team earned a team title for the third straight week, putting up 96 points to outdistance the 65 scored by Cardinal O’Hara (Pa.) and 55 by Smyrna on Sunday at the Diamond State Invitational No. 2 at Haverford (Pa.) College.
Padua, the defending DIAA Indoor girls champion, also won the first Diamond State meet on Jan. 4 at Ursinus College and the N5CTA meet on Jan. 11 at Haverford. On Sunday, the Pandas got victories from Christina Allen in the 55 meters, Taliah Cintron in the 200, Emily Paolucci in the mile and Kelly Muschiatti in the high jump.
Smyrna took the 4×800 relay, and the Eagles got individual wins from Ashley Morris in the 55-meter hurdles and Shantell Kargbeh in the triple jump. Other Delaware girls winners were Delaware Military Academy’s Adrienne Fraczkowski (3,200), Hodgson’s Alexis Rogers (long jump), Charter of Wilmington’s Alexia Troise (shot put) and Middletown’s 4×200-meter relay team.
Salesianum scored 72 points to earn the boys title, followed by Dover (58), Howard (48) and Appoquinimink (47). Sean Ruane won the 200 for the Sals, and Patrick Hally took the mile.
Howard won the 4×400 and 4×800 relays. Appo took the 4×200, and the Jaguars’ Larry Perez won the 400. Other individual winners were Brandywine’s Eamon McCoy (800), Thomas Connelly of Wilmington Friends (3,200), Dover’s Mykele Sander (55-meter hurdles) and Jamal Faulkner (high jump), Hodgson’s Ray Jones (long jump), Concord’s Charles Mitchell (triple jump) and St. Mark’s Markquise Normand (shot put).
Rounding it up
* It has been a long time (1972, to be exact) since St. Elizabeth has had an opening for a head football coach. The school is now accepting applications for the task of replacing legendary coach Joe Hemphill, who retired at the end of last season. Email résumés and letters of interest to email@example.com by Jan. 31.
* Caesar Rodney’s Zack Parker was the only Delawarean to earn a top-three finish at the prestigious Escape the Rock wrestling tournament on Sunday in Holland, Pa., taking third at 285 pounds. Smyrna’s Brent Fleetwood edged CR’s Micah Hight for fifth place at 120 in a matchup of three-time DIAA state champions.
* The Sussex Central at Caesar Rodney boys basketball game was finally played Saturday, after being postponed Dec. 10 and Jan. 3. CR won a 43-42 classic, and the teams meet again in a regularly scheduled game at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Sussex Central.
* William Penn’s Jasalyn Davis-Denkins reached 1,000 career points on Thursday in the Colonials’ win over McKean.
* Appoquinimink wrestler Josh Smith earned his 100th career victory and won the 152-pound title at the Battle by the Bridge tournament on Jan. 11.
* Former St. Mark’s basketball coach and athletic director Tom Rosa will be honored in the gym before the Spartan’s home basketball game against St. Elizabeth on Jan. 27. A reception is planned for after the game.