Monday, March 30, 2015

The 2015 5th Grade Basketball State Champions!

It was coming down to the wire.  The Head Coach of G's basketball team was trying to decide whether or not to accept the invitation to the State Championships in Danvers.  Last year, we were invited and declined because the games were at the same time as our district championships.  No one would deny G's team of that District Championship in 2014.  This year the 5th Grade State championship would have taken place during the first round of our districts.  With the Semifinals the following weekend it seemed like a no-brainer this year.  The decision was made to go.  Danvers, here we come!

It was a snowy weekend when we traveled to the Danvers Indoor Sports complex for our first game.  We were matched up against a tough Franklin team that was one of the best teams in the Metrowest league.  We were still a little sleepy as I led the teams in their pre-game routines.  As an assistant coach, I'm able to sit on the court and tell everyone to box out, but I don't have to worry about coaching a kid up when his shot isn't going down or he is suffering from mal-defense (my unique term for the lack of defensive toughness).  Franklin's interesting strategy of 2 minutes in, 2 minutes out was wearing us down.  They would just flat out sprint for two minutes and then go to the bench.  It was an interesting strategy.  Ultimately, we were able to pull that game out by 5.  I can still remember the squeaky voice on the Franklin Head coach.

2015 Champs!
The second game would be tougher.  We were playing a physical Canton team that had gone undefeated in its Metrowest league.  Led by two bigs who were 6 inches taller than G (who is our tallest player), we knew we would be in for a tough match up.  It was made even tougher when G had to sit out because he thought he was going to throw up (Ah, he could have told me before the one hour car ride to Danvers that he wasn't feeling well).  What I didn't expect was that the Canton team was a little weak-kneed.  Crying about fouls and non-calls, I thought we were playing a team from Hingham.  Especially when they got down in the game; tears were literally flowing.  The two big kids both went out in foul trouble and started swearing up a storm.  The referees actually had to talk to both of them.  No technical fouls in this event, though.  Jesus.  We pulled out another 6 point win.  With a 2-0 record in our pool, we received a bye and moved on to the top of the Winner's bracket.

Onto Sunday.  Our first game in the Semi Finals was against our fierce rivals, Braintree.  Despite being three times as big, we were always giving them a good fight.  This would be the same type of game.  Low scoring through out (They had a kid who just played a one man zone who would block every shot like he was Manute Bol), we were able to beat the bigger team by 10 points in a low scoring 29-19 game.  Thank God we hit a lot of our free throws because we could not get anything going offensively.

We knew our opponent in the Championships was going to be Canton again as they staved off a smaller but quicker team from Lawrence in their Semifinal Match-up.  They looked like they were ready to play as their parents were too.  They were circus-ready.  On top of that, this was the culminating game as 5th Grade was the oldest group and we were in the most high profile bracket.  It was a loud and noisy gym as the two teams began the tip.  It was clear though from the first couple of minutes that the Canton team was going to run out of steam.  They seemed fired up and could not get anything to go down.  Their two bigs were again stymied by our guys and had to come out.  One for crying, the other one because he fouled out.  Our lead grew to double digits in the Second Half and we cruised to a State Tournament victory by winning by 15 points.  What a great success!

The kids were celebrating, the parents were celebrating, the Coaches were shaking hands.  We were jubilant.  Alright I used that word like I was tilling the ground in the 1950's Indiana.  Don't mind me, we're just celebrating a great performance.  Good for them.

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