Dartmouth High alums create summer basketball league of their own

Aug 15, 2023

In its second year, with 14 teams, 2 conferences, 125 players and 16 sponsors, the Dartmouth Community Summer League is a bona fide basketball operation. Teams play under the lights at Burgo Basketball Association with full use of the scoreboard. Independent referees officiate playoff games. 

And all of it was organized by a few Dartmouth High alums. 

Colby Sylvia, one of the organizers, said he and his friends were playing pickup games at the Burgo Basketball Association courts anyway over the summer, and they realized they knew a lot more people who would want to play too. 

“Last year, we were kind of just sitting here, and said ‘Why not make a little community out of it’?” Sylvia said. “Ever since high school, we were kind of missing that competitive aspect of our lives.”

They created a Google document and shared it with all their friends and friends of friends. Each team has a team captain, who submits a squad with their group. Teams then receive a sponsor as their team name, and all sponsors are printed on the back of jerseys. 

The league started in late May with a full season separated into two conferences, followed by playoffs for the highest performers. On the night of Aug. 14, the black and purple teams faced off for a nail-biting championship game, with black taking the trophy. 

The summer league fills a void in town: while youth leagues run aplenty in Dartmouth, there aren’t many opportunities for organized sports for high school graduates.

“A lot of these kids, we all played right here for our summers,” said Bryan Cordeiro, one of the league’s organizers. “Last year was the first year we couldn’t.”

Mike Ferreira came to the championship to see his son Andrew play. He said he thought the self-organized nature of the league was “amazing.”

“What else is there to do for kids their age?” Ferreira said. 

While a couple of the players are on college teams, most don’t really play basketball outside of the summer, Cordeiro said. 

Aydan Fournier and Aaron Souza, on the Navy team sponsored by Surrounding’s Landscaping, said they got connected to the league through friends who knew the organizers. Their team lost early, but they were happy to just play.

“It’s pretty cool,” Fournier said. “The only thing we’ve really seen around like it.”

“I think it was a good way to get us all involved, doing something together,” Souza said. 

They would typically play 3v3 basketball on a half court with their friends, so playing real 5v5 games against other teams was quite different. 

“We’re from Freetown Lakeville, we have a local court that we play at all the time, and I wish we had a league there,” Fournier said. 

The championship was the first game spectator Kelly Burgo attended, and he said he wasn’t too impressed with “the quality of basketball” but thought the league was a good idea for the players. 

The championship game Monday, Aug. 14 was as competitive as it gets, with frequent lead changes and a tie game at the 2 minute mark in the fourth quarter. 

The close game meant tensions ran high, and players occasionally hassled the refs throughout the game: “Yo, he’s with them bro, he’s with them,” one player shouted, accusing the ref of taking sides.

Sylvia said those kind of jabs at refs were present throughout the season, which he chalked up to players’ “competitive fire.”

With 35 seconds left, the undefeated purple team led 45-43, and were trying to run down the clock. Black intentionally fouled, bringing two unsuccessful free throws from purple and giving possession back to black. 

With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Declan Markey on black took a last-minute jump shot from far beyond the line, banking it in for a game-winning three pointer, sending the score to 46-45 and sending the crowd into an uproar. 

The game marked the end of the season, and some players will be headed back to school soon. Sylvia doesn’t expect the league to end here though. Another summer will mean another opportunity to do it all over again.

“I’m excited for next year: every year we’re looking forward to building,” Sylvia said.