The Redwood Red seventh grade boys basketball team wrapped up its 2018 season with an impressive 25-2 overall record, making it the most successful seventh grade team in Humboldt and Del Norte this year.
“It has been a fun season,” said Redwood Red coach Reggie Loftin. “It’s a great bunch of boys, and the parents are phenomenal with all the effort that they put in to get kids where they need to be. Everybody wanted to be there, and we had a good time. They are all students first, and they all get good grades.”
The Red Raiders opened their season at a tournament in Ukiah, advancing to the championship game where they ended up falling to a team from Santa Rosa. That ended up being Redwood’s only loss for about a month.
“We had only had three days of practice before we went down there,” Loftin said of the Ukiah Tournament. “The Santa Rosa team was a good team, but I think right now if we were to play them it would be a different game.”
The Red Raiders ended up taking first place at three tournaments in Humboldt, winning in McKinleyville, Jacoby Creek and Zane.
“The only one that really mattered to me that we didn’t win was the Epperson Tournament, our home tournament,” Loftin said. “Zane, who we beat four times, came up and beat us up here. Those guys are a fun group, too, and their coaches make it fun.”
Loftin credits Redwood Red’s success this season to the special group of athletes he has to work with.
“It’s the kids, it’s not me. In baseball, football, basketball, they win in pretty much everything that they do,” Loftin said. “They are selfless and self-disciplined. They care for each other, too. They are pretty tight-knit. They all have their own groups, but they come together as one and cheer each other on.”
It isn’t just basketball either. Many of the Red Raider players have also enjoyed considerable success together playing football and baseball as well.
“I have been with them for a long time, my son is on the team, and I have coached them in baseball and in football,” Loftin said. “We don’t have an AAU team, but we have gone out of town and played tournaments on the weekend. If there is something going on in Medford I’ll call around and I can get five kids to go over there. And I can do that for anything, like baseball, and it’s all the same kids.”
In fact when it comes to basketball, Loftin said the kids’ competitiveness is likely more of a factor than any coaching that he has implemented.
“I’m not a basketball coach; it is just a great group of kids. We run two of the offenses that Del Norte runs, and the shell defense that (Del Norte junior varsity coach Marc) Slayton has taught me,” Loftin said. “I was a wrestler in high school. I wasn’t into basketball. I hope they do have a coach step up to actually teach them basketball, because right now they win on aggressiveness.”
Although Loftin’s experience with the sport is limited, he said coach Andrew Antonetti has been a big help, especially with some of the Xs and Os.
“I wouldn’t say he is my assistant coach, I would say we are co-coaches,” Loftin said. “He helped a lot this year. Some of the defensive schemes that he came up with — I wouldn’t see it. I really appreciate him giving his time because without him we wouldn’t be as good.”
Loftin said Redwood is also fortunate to have great support for the team from the school.
“It’s the kids, it’s the parents and it’s the administration,” he said. “Mrs. Slayton is the best. She cares. She calls to see how we are doing and checks in on us. The two secretaries in the front office are always great too. If I need anything they take care of it. It is a family out here at Redwood.”