NNPS Middle School Basketball Tournament 2016

Before our student athletes are able to impress
prospective colleges by playing at the high school level, our talented ballplayers sharpen
their skills in middle school. The 8th season of middle school basketball
recently wrapped up after a six-game regular season where middle schools from the north
and south divisions played each of their opponents twice. All eight middle schools enter the post season
with a chance of winning the citywide championship. Regular-season records help rank the teams
who face new opponents from the other end of the city during the single elimination
tournament. After sweeping the boys and girls championships
last season, both of Crittenden’s teams returned to the championship game at Warwick High School
this year ready to face brand new opponents on their quest for repeat titles. Crittenden’s girls faced off against the Dozier
Dragons, pitting both number one seeds from the north and south divisions against each
other. The teams were hungry for victory and evenly
matched through the first two quarters, entering the halftime at 23 points. Crittenden pulled ahead in the third quarter,
but a late charge by Dozier in the fourth quarter fell just short as the Cougars celebrated
their second championship title in as many years. Crittenden second-year head coach, seventh
grade math teacher Tim Smith, praised his student athletes for their talent on the court
and academic focus in the classroom. Controlling the game on offense, pressure
defense, and transitioning quickly on the court benefited the Cougar team this season
which will miss four starters to high school next year. And the Cougars hope to keep their winning
streak alive as the boys teams took to the court. After a slow start to the regular season,
the third ranked Gildersleeve Seahawks peaked at the right time by upsetting the number
one ranked Passage Panthers in the semifinals. In the championship game Crittenden started
off strong, but the perseverance of the Seahawks kept the game within reach at the halftime. With supreme focus and a tenacious defense
that created a number of turnovers, the Seahawks pulled ahead in the third quarter while holding
the Cougars to only three points. Gildersleeve widened their lead in the fourth
quarter and were able to complete the upset and celebrate as tournament champions. Third-year coach and special-education teacher
Maurice Horton praised his team for having positive energy and effort to overcome a rough
start while building on the level of focus to play hard for each other down the stretch. With 8th graders making up the nucleus of
this year’s championship Seahawks squad, a younger team will need to grow to continue
Gildersleeve’s successful season.

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