Tonawanda News — As Tonawanda High School senior Ben Stich reflected on his three-year varsity basketball career, he zeroed in on two watershed moments that told him that he had arrived as a varsity basketball player.
The first was how Stich responded after a slow start in a scrimmage against Amherst. The other was starting in his first T-NT game.
Those two moments, and every step since then, helped Stich craft one of the most memorable careers in Warriors basketball history. A career that is capped off by Ben Stich being named the Tonawanda News 2013-14 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Stich, feeling he probably needed a bit more seasoning, thought he would be better off starting his sophomore year on JV. But Warriors coach Hank Hughes told Stich his time was now. And you will improve faster through more varsity playing time.
“It was after one scrimmage against Amherst where I didn’t play so good in the first quarter,” said Stich. “(Hughes) sat me down right there. Kind of talked to me. I went back out there, and I didn’t turn the ball over again. I’m glad he trusted me and I’m glad I trusted him.”
But Stich truly arrived a few weeks later when he was thrown into the fire of the T-NT rivalry after Warriors teammate Tyler Hughes was sick and unable to play. Stich turned in a performance that not only helped Tonawanda defeat their cross canal rivals, but also solidified his role as the Warriors point guard going forward.
“That’s really when I felt like I could play with these guys,” said Stich. “To be with Jesse (Lalka), Clayton (Hess) and Jake (Spencer) — all of those guys. Really, that’s when I felt like I was part of the team and contributed. I think I had 10 points, I remember it vividly. Coach Hughes was talking to me after and telling me, ‘OK, you’re kinda my point guard now.’”