Proud as punch: Sullivan West senior Alex Unser is flanked by his mother Linda Babicz and her boyfriend Ed Gilbert. 

Sullivan West pays homage to senior hoopsters

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Charles-Arnold Kurr van Gennep (1873-1957) had it right when he penned “Les Rites de Passage” almost 110 years ago, in a work in which the noted Dutch-German-French folklorist and ethnographer described ceremonies that mark significant changes in a person’s life.

And so it was on Wednesday, February 21 as the Sullivan West varsity boys’ basketball team was honored during senior recognition night.

Setting the tone of the pre-game event, the announcer read a few words by wordsmith and assistant coach Don Henke.

“These young men have given a great deal of time, effort and commitment… over the last six years. They have represented their school, community and families with the utmost dignity and respect, and maintained the positive reputation of Sullivan West basketball.

“Throughout their tenure, they have been instrumental in showing the younger players on the team what it means to be a Sullivan West basketball player. Their leadership and loyalty will be sincerely missed… we hope the lessons learned here on the basketball court will help them in their future endeavors.”

Then it was time for the six-pack of senior student athletes to be joined by their folks at center court for the traditional presentation of flowers and pose for photos.

After the game, they stepped up to the plate for a few comments about the season and what senior recognition night means to them.

Alex Unser (#34) was joined by his mother Linda Babicz and her boyfriend Ed Gilbert, while up in the Dawg Pound, his classmates held up a sign proclaiming “EagleScout. Go Alex!”

“It was like a microcosm for my whole career… we didn’t go very far, but I had a blast. I love my team,” he said of the season soon to draw to a close.

His take on senior recognition night, after playing basketball since his freshman year: “It’s a send-off.”

Brandon”Booboo” Dailey (#55) was accompanied by his parents Jennifer and Steven. He has played hoops since the ninth grade, and was thrilled to have his brother John drive two-and-a-half hours to be part of the ceremony, adding, ”It meant the whole world to me.”

“We didn’t make sectionals this year… these guys, I love every one of them, at the end of the day, we’re a family… I’m glad to call these guys my brothers.

“It’s great to see everybody recognize some of the guys who really don’t get off the bench… they finally get their time to shine… they got called out [by the announcer] and the crowd cheered,” he said, noting that he warmed the bench last year.

Brendan Cardona (#3) was joined at center court by his dad Danny and brother Matt. After graduation, he plans to sign up with Uncle Sam in “semper fi” defense of his country with the USMC. He said, “As a whole, the season had its ups and downs, but we pulled it out and played as a team.”

His reaction to the special night? “One hundred percent!”

Reis Gieger (#14) was accompanied by his parents Jackie and Michael.

“The season has been tough for us… we’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” he said of the season, adding that in the wake of a couple of incidents—best left unreported—“we really had to learn to play more as a team.”

The importance of senior recognition night?

“It showed the freshmen, sophomores and juniors, that even through we’re graduating, we’re still a family as a team… they will have our support from us for the rest of their careers.”

Mike Peters (#22) was joined by his folks Sue and Dennis.

“We had a good season, but it seemed like all the wrong things happened at the right times… so many of the games we needed went the wrong way… It’s been a rough season.”

Of the evening of special recognition, Peters added, “It makes the seniors feel like they won’t be forgotten.”

Collin Hauschild (#11) is a three-letter sportsman who plans to play football in college. He was joined at center court by his parents John and Dawn.

Hauschild agreed with several of his teammates that the season had its “ups and downs,” adding “we absolutely had our struggles… it was tough not making the playoffs.”

“Senior recognition night was everything I ever dreamed off… we played from modified all the way up together… being on the [home team] court one last time means everything.”

In the wake of victory, the seniors headed homeward with banners featuring their likenesses, modern-day banderoles that hung proudly in the gym in recognition of their high school basketball careers.

You’ll find coverage of the cheerleader senior recognition night and the final Bulldogs-Yellow Jackets game online only at, along with more photos for this story.


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