Dharta Harris graduated from Bennett in 1983. His career as a Bennett Tiger is legendary. A three sport standout in track, swimming, and cross country, he was a man for all seasons.
Dharta was a 4 year performer in track, gaining All High and All Western New York laurels in high hurdles, intermediate hurdles, and the long jump. His peak performances include a Section VI record 14.4 seconds in the high hurdles, a Section VI record 53.76 seconds in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles, and a school record 22′ 5 3/4″ in the long jump.
Harris displayed his talents in the pool, lettering all 4 years and achieving All High in 3 events. He set a city record in the 50 yard free style, churning to a time of 22.6 seconds. In the 60 yard freestyle, his city record time was a sparkling 28.0 seconds. To complete the triple, Dharta also set the Buffalo record of 51.2 seconds in the 100 yard freestyle.
Dharta lettered all 4 years in cross country, and was a starter on the Bennett team that won the 1983 Columbia Cup championship. Harris attended the University of Alabama on a full track scholarship after graduating from Bennett. As a member of the Crimson Tide track team, he became an outstanding intermediate hurdler. He finished as high as 5th in the Southeast Conference track meet.
As an Army military man, Dharta became a decathlon competitor, winning several championships.
Curtis Aiken was a four-year starter at point guard for Bennett. Curt was named All-High as a sophomore, and first team All Western New York after both his junior and senior years. Curt was also named a USA Parade All-American, Adidas and McDonald All-American after his senior year. The New York State Sportswriters’ Association named Curt Aiken Co-Player of the Year in New York State in 1983. After Curt’s junior year he attended the Converse All Star Camp and attained a “Five Star” rating, which led him to being one of the most highly recruited players in local basketball history.
From the team contribution standpoint, Curt led Bennett to The Buffalo News #1 small school ranking after both the ’82 and ’83 basketball seasons. Bennett participated in the state NY SPHSAA basketball tournament both years, capturing the state public school class “B” championship at Glens Falls, NY in 1983.
Curt finished his high school career with 2,162 points, setting all WNY scoring records. This was the 5th highest point total in New York State history, and was accomplished in the era before the three point shot. Curt’s 65 point effort three games into his senior season set the Yale Cup single game record. In the two post-season games allowed at the time, Curt participated in the McDonald’s All American Classic in Washington, DC and the Dapper Dan Classic in Pittsburgh, PA. Perhaps Curt’s most memorable performance was in leading the Western Zone scholastic team to its first ever medal (gold) in the 1982 Empire State Games.
Curt earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. Curt graduated on time as a Communications major, and left Pitt as the #7 leading scorer in school history. He still lives in Pittsburgh and works for Coca-Cola, the firm that hired him while still a student at Pitt.
Curtis Aiken combined a charismatic personality with a crowd-pleasing style of play which made him a crowd favorite everywhere he played. His scoring touch, deft ball handling skills and tricky passes made Curt perhaps the most publicized schoolboy basketball player in WNY annals.
Joanne Bonvissuto came to Bennett as a sophomore and played on three sport squads in each of her three years. In the fall seasons she played volleyball, winters would find her toiling at her favorite sport, basketball, while each spring was spent playing softball. Her volleyball squads were city champions in both 1982 and 1983, going undefeated each season. In basketball, she led the team in scoring with a sparkling 16.1 ppg in her senior year. Joanne helped lead the 1983 softball squad to a 10 win, 2 loss record. She recorded a spectacular .673 batting average and was named 1st team All-High at Catcher for her efforts. Joanne played for the North squad in the post season girls All-Star softball game.
Joanne Bonvissuto Scaduto attended Buffalo State College after high school, and graduated from Bryant & Stratton. She is married with two daughters, works for Verizon and resides in the area.
“Liz” Arnone had an outstanding athletic and academic career at Bennett. She played varsity volleyball for 3 years and softball for 4 years. The 1982 and 1983 city champion volleyball teams were both undefeated, finishing a combined 23 wins and 0 losses. In Arnone’s favorite sport, softball, she was named 2nd team All W.N.Y. in 1983. The 1982 and 1983 softball squads had a combined record of 17 wins and 5 losses. Arnone participated for the North squad in the W.N.Y. girls all-star softball contest following her senior year.
Arnone was also President of her senior class. She attended Buffalo State College after high school, and is currently a teacher in the area. Liz Arnone Young is married and the mother of two, and joins her brother Jeff as an inductee to the Bennett Sports Hall Of Fame.