Teams swarm from 3 states
Big things come in small packs of 8th graders. All the elements of a tournament for the big boys were there: dozens of fans, cheerleaders, mascots and down-to-the-wire, heart-pounding suspense.
Dora Castillo, 10, shouted in chorus with the cheer squad to support the Smith River Blue Wildcats on Friday. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Crescent City Jaycees 44th annual 8th Grade Boys Basketball Tournament tipped-off last night with 56 teams from all across California, Oregon and even one team from Arizona competing in eight gyms across the county.
Smith River Elementary School Principal Paige Swan said you could feel the excitement building in school Friday as anticipation for the tournament set in.
“Everyone was vibrating,” Swan said. “It’s pretty cool.”
In the B-1 Division, the Smith River Blue team played a tough game against South Fork Middle School at Redwood School Gym last night, ultimately losing to South Fork, 42-48.
Smith River player Aldair Garcia, 13, drained a three-pointer in the last 30 seconds of the first quarter to tie the game, but a handful of three-pointers by South Fork in the second quarter signaled the beginning of the end for the Smith River Wildcats, who ended the second half down 16 to 27.
During halftime, the Wildcats cheer squad entertained the crowd with a choreographed routine set to music and cheers. Several spectators in the crowd chanted along.
Dora Castillo, 10, had “S.R.” and number “24” painted on her cheeks, a bullhorn in hand and knew every cheer, after learning them from her older sister on the squad.
The Smith River Blue players’ halftime was less cheerful. Smith River Coach Ron Quick told them they had to limit their turnovers, get more rebounds and make some stops if they wanted to stay in the game.
The Wildcats came out strong in the first half and cut South Fork’s lead to four points, trailing 23-27. The Wildcats’ effort wasn’t enough, though, and South Fork kept the pressure on, staying in the lead throughout the second half.
With two minutes left in the game, Smith River looked like they might take it, trailing only by four points, but South Fork’s point guard made the most of his free throws when the Wildcats were forced to foul him to stop the clock.
Smith River Wildcat Travis Jolley fights for the rebound with South Fork player Huston Reuter. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
“Their point guard killed us,” coach Quick said. “They made better decisions than we did.”
Garcia felt like the team got tired.
“We just weren’t ourselves,” he said. “Usually we play a little better.”
Smith River Blue will play Weaverville at 9 a.m. today in the Redwood School Gym. South Fork will play Yoncalla, which took first in the B-1 Division last year, at 11:30 a.m. at Redwood.
Ball games will resume at 9 a.m. today. The Hoop Shoots contest will take place at 2 p.m. in Del Norte High School’s small gym, followed by the cheerleader competition. The award ceremony will be held at DN High starting at 9:30 p.m.
A full schedule of events was included in the Thursday edition of the Triplicate.