St. Anthony's eighth-grade boys, many of whom have been playing hoops with each other since fourth grade, recently finished a streak of five league championships with a 37-24 victory over St. Isabella in the county championship game at Terra Linda High in San Rafael on March 19th.
Over the five years, the boys played a total of 54 league and playoff games; they won 49 games and never lost a championship game. They had an undefeated season in the 5th grade. Including preseason tournaments, the team played a total of 105 games, only losing a total of 11 games over the five years.
Long time teammates Brandon Beckman, Payam Ravanfar and Tony Nilsen were key contributors. Beckman was the team’s leading scorer averaging 16 ppg, while Ravanfar was a critical playmaker and Nilsen served up relentless defense.
Of the 10 boys on the team, four have been teammates since the fourth grade. They are Beckman, Ravanfar, Nilsen, and Charlie Dial. Another key contributor for all but one year was Colin Farrell. In the past two seasons the team added critical players including Justin Simonetti, Joey Reyff, David Thoma, Tony Mariscal and Joe Garbarino.
Seven boys will attend high school in Novato next year. Nilsen, Simonetti, Reyff, Thoma, Mariscal and Dial will go to San Marin, while Farrell will attend Novato High and Garbarino to Marin Catholic. Two of the boys will attend high school in San Francisco – Beckman to St. Ignatius College Prep and Ravanfar to Stuart Hall. Keep your eye on these talented athletes in high school.
Head coach, Art Beckman, brought over 20 years of coaching experience, starting as St. Ignatius College prep where he coached football for 6 years, then 5 years at St Cecilia (SF) grammar school both basketball and baseball, 6 years of little league baseball in Terra Linda, and 5 years of St. Anthony girls basketball. The St Anthony girls’ team was the last St. Anthony to win 5 championships in a row. Assistant coach, Terry Nilsen, is credited for developing the team’s defense. Terry, a Novato High graduate, was a member of the 1982 MCAL Championship Volleyball team and 1983 MCAL Championship basketball team. She coached 8 seasons of Varsity Volleyball at Novato High and assisted two years of varsity girls’ basketball.
A unique element in St. Anthony’s coaching staff was the addition of two coaches: High school basketball players Brianna Beckman and Chris Nilsen, both class of 2015 served as role models and mentors to the boys. Brianna plays Varsity basketball at St. Ignatius, recently winning the CCS Open Division championship. Chris is the center for San Marin’s football team who went onto Nor Cals this year, and he is a member of their basketball team. Art Beckman credits his coaching staff, “Without their huge contributions and tireless efforts, this amazing accomplishment would not have come to pass,” he said.
“(They) are some of the best coaches I have ever seen, truly,” said Julie Simonetti, who has a son on the team. “They have taught the boys the fundamentals to prepare them to go onto high school basketball, and are such a positive influence on the boys.”