Joins EB’s Cumber in Centennial Conference Next Season
Robert Benites of Old Bridge, shown here at right contesting a jump ball against Matawan in the Championship Game of the 2018 Huskies Holiday Classic, recently revealed that he will be attending McDaniel College in Maryland.
OLD BRIDGE, NJ—Last week, GMC Hoops learned that Old Bridge senior forward, Robert Benites, has committed to attend McDaniel College next fall, where he will play in the men’s basketball program. Benites, who played freshmen hoops at St. Joseph’s, played his last three years at Old Bridge.
Benites’ first season with Old Bridge as a sophomore two years ago was derailed somewhat by injury. The Knights ended up losing to Woodbridge in the GMCT Quarterfinals after handing eventual conference champion, St. Joseph’s its only loss in league play late in the regular season.
Last year, Benites’ junior year, Old Bridge made significant strides despite suffering another key injury when Jared Meyer went down with a torn ACL in the first weeks of the 2017-18 season. The Knights managed to reach the GMCT Semifinals for the first time since 2013 before falling to Colonia. This year, OBHS was hoping to reach even greater heights.
For much of the season, the Knights stood tall amidst a great deal of parity in the GMC, especially in the GMC Red Division, where pre-season number one, St. Joseph’s was 5-6 at one point midway through the season. Old Bridge ended the regular season as the GMC Red champ, which marked the first time since the 2012-13 season that a team other than St. Joe’s won the Red.
Consequently, Old Bridge earned the top seed in the 2019 GMCT, and managed to advance to the GMCT Quarterfinals for the fourth straight year, and fifth time in the last 7 years. The Knights easily handled 17th seeded North Brunswick in the Round of 16, and seemed to be in good shape to advancing to the semis for the second year in a row early in the fourth against 9th seeded New Brunswick.
Unfortunately, in a controversial finish, top seeded Old Bridge was upended by the Zebras. Then, the Knights lost to neighborhood rival, Monroe in the Central Jersey Group 4 Quarterfinals. As a freshman, Benites helped guide St. Joseph’s-Green to a 20-2 overall record, and the 2016 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tourney Championship over Edison.
Benites stood tall in a 60-33 victory over East Brunswick at Miglio Gymnasium back on January 7th that season. Benites scored 12 points including 10 in the first half as the the Freshmen Falcons jumped out to a 33-15 lead midway through the second period. Matt Crowley, who scored 13 points in the win over EB ended up being the Amboy/GMC Frosh Tourney MVP after Chris Carrera banked in a three at the buzzer to defeat top seeded Edison in the final, 46-43.
Over his three seasons at OBHS, Benites played in 48 games, made 34 field goals and netted 11 foul shots for a total of just 79 points. Benites also shined at the AAU level for the Jersey Shoreshots. Benites did have his moments at the varsity level with the Knights though, particularly this past season. Against South Brunswick on opening night, and again at Monroe in an overtime classic won by OB on January 10th, Benites showed his promise for the next level.
On opening night at SBHS in Monmouth Junction, Benites turned in a solid all around performance with 4 points on two field goals, 8 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, and an assist in a 45-29 Knights win over the Vikings. Then, against Monroe, Benites was relentless on the offensive boards, blocked a couple shots, and generated plenty of energy and enthusiasm en route to a season high 7 points in the first quarter while Old Bridge came from behind for a 56-48 victory in overtime.
As a junior, Benites had his best season scoring wise with 18 field goals and 7 free throws for 43 points in 20 games, or an average of 2.1 points per game. He matched his career high of 8 points on two occasions including an opening round game against Manalapan on December 27, 2017, and at Perth Amboy on January 18, 2018. Over his last two years at OBHS, the Knights were 40-13 overall including a 23-5 mark in Red Division play.
Benites is the second player from the GMC to commit to a Centennial Conference school this year. Earlier in 2019, Travis Cumber of East Brunswick announced that he will be attending Franklin and Marshall in Pennsylvania to play men’s basketball next fall. Recently, another former St. Joseph’s sub-varsity standout, Owen McLeod, who went on to be a standout player at Bishop Ahr, turned in a solid career at Muhlenberg.
McDaniel College, which is located in Westminster Maryland, already has three players from the Central Jersey area on this past season’s roster including: Zach Moran of St. John Vianney, Quinton Minnick of New Egypt, and Connor Strickland of Point Pleasant Borough. The Green Terror were only 7-18 overall this past season including a 3-15 mark in conference play. McDaniel did still manage to improve slightly over two seasons ago.
In 2017-18, McDaniel College was 6-19 overall including a 3-15 record in the Centennial Conference. Three seasons ago, the Green Terror were just a game shy of .500 overall at 12-13 while going 8-10 in conference play. Congratulations Robert on making it to the next level, and best of luck in your academic and athletic pursuits.