Area Junior High basketball coaches share reflections on recent season

At most schools Class A and above the months of August and September is associated with the start of football season. For the Class B & C schools it means the time when junior high boys and girls basketball programs play their schedule.

The future representatives of the varsity teams at Quitman, Weston and Saline recently completed a very competitive season with all teams playing almost 20 games. Highlights were many, as new stars emerged and much entertainment was enjoyed by the fans.

Perhaps the most impressive memory of the season was provided by both the boys and girls teams from Quitman. Each finished the season with a 19-0 record. While having both the junior high teams go undefeated the same season may have happened in days of old, according to the coaching staff at Quitman this is the first time that this has been accomplished in recent memory.Adding icing to the sweet taste of success enjoyed by the school is the fact that this marks the second year in a row the boys team has not lost a game. It was an offensive attack that impressively averaged over 45 points per game that led to the QJH boys good fortune. The girls did it through a suffocating defense that held their opponents to single digits in scoring in an incredible 75 of 76 quarters played. 

At Weston, even though both the boys and girls had losing seasons the season has to be considered a success for both teams. The boys finished with an 8-10 record but five of the losses came at the hands of their parish neighbors. The junior Wolves had a winning record against everyone else on their schedule and several young players emerged leading credence to a bright futuer. The girs ended the year 5-10 but was forced to play over half of their schedule shorthanded due to injury and illness. Like the boys, five of their losses were to Quitman.  When able to field their entire team, the junior girls lost only one of five games including winning three of their last four. 

With only three 8th graders on the roster and almost half the team being 5th and 6th graders, the Saline girls gave notice that age doesn’t mean anything.  The talented youngsters ended the year with an impressive 11-5 record with three of the losses coming by three points or less. If you think the Saline girls were young, the junior boys were even younger and had even less experience. The year ended with more losses than wins but the team showed great improvement as the season progressed and was one of the few squads that led Quitman in the second half and came closest to beating them.

Here is what the coaches of each squad said about their team and the season.

Mike Black, Quitman Jr. High (boys) – First and foremost I am extremely proud of them. They put in a lot of work during the summer and throughout the season as a team and individually. Their hard work paid off with their second straight undefeated season. Even in games that we trailed late they would come together to make the plays to win. As the season went on they began to realize they can influence games in more ways than scoring and became more complete players. They are a fun group to coach, and I look forward to what the future holds for them.

Kyle Leach, Quitman Jr. High (girls) – This year’s group of athletes were so fun to coach! They played hard and with an intensity that was second to none! They did whatever April (Simonelli)  or myself asked of them. Just as important as basketball however is that they are great students with good attitudes! Quitman is a great place to be!

Jacob Otwell, Weston Jr. High (boys) – My boys played very hard all season. I saw several kids improve alot and I was very proud how my boys battled every time we stepped on the floor.

Jennifer Tolar, Weston Jr. High (girls) – From the beginning of the season to the end, our girls improved so much growth. We had injuries at the start of the season that we had to overcome, but they didn’t let that discourage them. They worked hard each and every game from tip off until the final buzzer. Coach Waggoner and myself couldn’t have been prouder of the effort the Lady Wolves displayed this season and are excited to see what the future holds for each of them.

Klint Robinson, Saline Jr. High (boys) – I was really proud of this team. They exceeded my expectations of what I thought they could do early in the season. I saw tremendous growth in some players & we had a lot of fun. It always makes a season better when you don’t have to deal with discipline problems off the court and these young men made me proud. We also see bright futures for some of the individuals. There is some talent for the future here.

Chris Toms, Saline Jr. High (girls) – This season was one of the most successful Jr High seasons of my career. We finished the season 11-5 and three of the losses came by three points or less. I had only three  8th graders but they each played a big part in our success this year and they will be missed next Jr High season. However, our future is bright in the coming Jr High seasons with those that return, including our 5th grade point guard who has a future that could be incredible.




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