Crescent City hosts H-DN MS Jamboree

The Crescent Elk Middle School girls basketball season is already about halfway done, and the eighth grade "A" team has gotten off to a fantastic start.

The eighth-graders have begun the season 12-1. Nearly all of the games played have been in tournaments that the team travels to on weekends.

That will all change today when Crescent City plays host to the Humboldt-Del Norte Middle School Jamboree. Girls teams from Crescent Elk, Redwood, Smith River, McKinleyville, Winship and Zane will compete against each other starting at 9 a.m., with the last game beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Winship and Zane are Eureka middle schools.

The seventh grade teams will play in the big gym at Crescent Elk and the eighth grade teams will play at the Foursquare Church gym.

In four prior tournaments, Crescent Elk's top eighth grade team has won three championships and finished as the runner-up in the other.

The girls' success has come after many hours of hard work, head coach John Horner said.

"The biggest thing I want to mention is the time and effort that these girls put in," Horner said. "We also play travel ball from January to May. We invite the Redwood and Smith River girls in to play that, and that is a different season.

"This eighth grade group that I have with me now has played for me for two years straight, 10 months out of every year. They have been putting in a lot of time and effort and it is good to see it is paying off for them."

The traveling team Horner referred to is the Del Norte AAU basketball program, the Lady Warriors. Horner started the AAU program a couple years ago in an effort to get young Warriors more court time.

"Girls basketball hasn't always been a good thing in Del Norte County and we are trying to get it there," Horner said. "The more we can get these girls in there playing basketball, the better. It is starting to show. We haven't had a team like the eighth grade team, that has won three championships, in Crescent City like this for as long as I can remember."

Crescent Elk's greatest strength is team defense.

"The philosophy that I have always tried to preach is defense," Horner said. "We play a man-to-man defense that is pretty physical. A lot of times in eighth grade, you will find girls aren't athletic enough to play man-to-man defense. I am lucky to have very athletic girls that play good help-side defense.

"We are allowing less than 20 points per game on average. Anytime you can do that, you are going to win a majority of your games. We are not the best team offensively; we struggle scoring sometimes, but when you can hold teams to 10 or 12 or 14 points, you are going to win a lot."

The lone black mark in Crescent Elk's season came against Zane. Zane and Crescent Elk have already met twice this season, both times in championship games with each school winning once. They will meet for a third time today at 9 a.m. to kick off the HDN Jamboree for the eighth-graders.

Horner said the Crescent Elk seventh grade team has also been playing well this season. The team has managed to place in all three tournaments it has attended.

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