Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

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.

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.

"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


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


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