WINNERS & AWARDS

Basketball Champions

AAA Norwood

AA St. Bernard’s

A-1 Ferndale

A-2 Mt. Vista

B-1 Douglas City

B-2 Trinity Valley

C Redwood Christian

Hoop Shoot Winners

AAA Jack Clancy Pacific Union

AA Wyatt Moore Middletown

A-1 Daegon Gorre Weaverville

A-2 Gianini Altman Riley Creek

B-1 Pbrandy Crippen Douglas City

B-2 Wesley Rodriguez Smith River

C Devin Nanez Hayfork

Most Valuble Players

AAA Tyree Rose Norwood

AA Evan Hodges St. Bernard’s

A-1 Carl Nunes Ferndale

A-2 Daniel Farris Mt. Vista

B-1 Noah Fielding Douglas City

B-2 Brian Gulley Trinity Valley

C Aaron Phillips Redwood Christian

Cheerleading Champions

AAA & AA Zane

A-1 Winship

A-2 & B-2 Toddy Thomas

B-1 Monument

Arman Gunnerson Sportsmanship Award

Redwood Christian

Jaycees Queen

Aubrey Pike, Grant

Most Outstanding Cheer Team

Monument

Most Outstanding Mascot

Keion Evans, Winship

Poster Contest

Smith River

Hundreds of middle school basketball players, cheerleaders and fans were in Del Norte County on Friday and Saturday for the 51st annual Crescent City Jaycees Eighth Grade Boys Basketball Tournament.

The annual regular season finale tournament includes 56 teams, spread out across seven different brackets, but basketball is only half of the activity. Another 18 cheerleading teams held their own competition on Saturday — in addition to cheering at each of their school’s games — in addition for a competition for the title of Jaycees Queen, a Most Outstanding Mascot competition, a poster contest, and the Arman Gunnerson Sportsmanship Award, which ties the whole event together.

The Arman Gunnerson Sportsmanship Award, named after the tournament founder, rewards the school that shows the best sportsmanship while competing in most or all of the various events. The winner of the Sportsmanship Award in 2019 was Redwood Christian, who won the C Division tournament.

Overall it was a tough year at the Jaycees Tournament for the locals, including six basketball teams and three cheerleading teams from Del Norte County with no team championships in either sport. The year-end extravaganza still provided plenty of excitement, however.

Smith River took first place in the poster competition this year, and Wildcat guard Wesley Rodriguez won the B-2 hoops shoot competition as well.

The B-2 Division was packed with local teams this year with Smith River, Crescent Elk B, and Redwood White all placed in the same bracket.

Rewood White managed to pick up a 63-48 win over Arena Union in the first round before running into eventual champion Trinity Valley in the semifinals. The Raiders were the only team in the tournament that managed to stay within stingle digits of Trinity Valley, but ended up falling 48-39. Redwood White went on to finish in fourth place overall after a close 38-32 loss to Stanwood A. Murphy in Redwood’s last game of the tournament.

The Smith River basketball team started the tournament with a loss to Trinity Valley on Friday, but the Wildcats bounced back for a 51-41 win over Arena Union. Similarly, Crescent Elk B lost its first round game against Stanwood A. Murphy on Friday but topped Freshwater, 48-30, on Saturday. That set up an all-Del Norte consolation championship game in the B-2 Division between the Wildcats and the Cougars.

Smith River has won a pair of close contests against Crescent Elk B during the regular season, but the Cougars pulled out a close 35-30 for a little bit of revenge, to claim fifth place in the division.

“Crescent Elk wanted it bad,” said Smith River head coach Ron Quick. “They are a good solid team, and they wanted it bad because both of the games we beat them in were dogfights. They came out with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove, and they played hard. What it comes down to is that they made a couple more shots than us. We had a couple that were just right there, but didn’t go in.”

Quick said the Wildcats ended up 7-7 overall for the season, after going 1-2 on Friday and Saturday.

“That’s not bad, but it’s not probably what we wanted either,” he said. “It’s the way that it was though, and win, lose, or draw we are all family and we all love each other. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have the community support and the family environment.”

Quick said this year’s Smith River team may not be the most experienced or aggressive group that he has ever coached, but this year’s team seems to be particularly, “kind hearted.”

“I don’t know how many kids I have coming up to me after every practice, or after every game — hugging me and thanking me just for being part of the team,” Quick said. “They are just happy to have their uniform, happy to be on the team, and happy to play. I figure that if everybody is going to be coming to practice, everybody is going to play a couple minutes a game at least.”

Although the team doesn’t have the most basketball experience, they all found a significant amount of success this year.

“The highlight of the season is that every kid on my team scored,” Quick said. “We have some kids that hadn’t ever played basketball before who scored, and we have some kids who have played before but hadn’t scored before who scored. The true highlight is that when they scored, all of their teammates were more excited for them scoring than they ever where for themselves scoring.”

Quick said 11 of the 13 boys at Smith River School came out for the team this year.

Uncharted Shores Academy has an even smaller student population, so the “eighth grade” boys basketball team is comprised of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students each year.

USA played in the C Division this season after going 2-5 during the regular season but wasn’t able to pull out a win at the Jaycees, going 0-3 over Friday and Saturday.

“There were some good basketball teams there this year, and I had a team that wasn’t very experienced,” said USA head coach Rod Martindale. “Last year I had an autistic child on the team, and we had three of them this year, so it was a learning experience for me. It was a really fun season though.”

With the season now at an end, Martindale said he is proud of all his team has accomplished this year.

“I’ll remember the way the kids interacted with each other, and they way they helped each other out as much as they could. A lot of the kids didn’t have a lot of self confidence, and trying to build that up was positive to see. Some of them went from not making any free throws to making their first free throw,” Martindale said. “They really came together as a team this year. There were a couple players that thought they had to wear the Superman shirt, and I told them that they all have it on.”

Martindale said he was excited USA was able to play the Crescent Elk A team this year, something that he has been wanting to do for a while now. He also said USA may have the opportunity to expand its regular season a little further next year.

“We are trying to get a league of our own started with some of the charter schools down in Eureka so we can play more games in a year,” he said.

The Redwood Reds were the top middle school team in Del Norte County this year, and competed in the toughest division at the Jaycees - AAA.

Redwood was edged out by Franklin (Loomis) 57-55 in the first round of the tournament on Friday, but bounded back for an equally close 44-42 victory over University Prep to start the day on Saturday. The Raiders ended up falling 44-36 to Sequoia Gold in the consolation championship game, but Redwood was within one basket late in the fourth quarter in that game as well.

“It was an awesome experience for the kids, for the fans, the parents, and for Redwood School. To play in the AAA Division is an honor,” said Redwood Red head coach Reggie Loftin. “Some of the parents were disappointed we got moved up to AAA, but obviously we were where we needed to be, because every game was close. We competed, and that is all that you can ask for. We got the experience of playing against good teams. It is one of the biggest tournaments around. The kids will never forget it. I still remember when I played for Crescent Elk.”

Loftin said Redwood Red wasn’t able to beat Pacific Union this season, running into them at lots of tournaments throughout the year, but they beat every other team they played through the regular season. Pacific Union went on to finish as the runners up in the AAA Division.”

Loftin has been coaching this group of Raiders for the last three years. He said many of the boys on the team have also enjoyed considerable success in Little League baseball where they made a run to the Oregon State Championship game, and on the football field.

“They are a good group of kids,” Loftin said. “They are young men who are coming into their own, and they are starting to become self-thinkers.”

The Crescent Elk A team played in the A-1 Division, where they started the tournament with a loss against eventual division champion Ferndale. The Cougars fell to Weaverville in their first game on Saturday, and dropped a close 42-39 contest against Terrance in the seventh place game.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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