During the week of Dec. 3-7, all of the 10 MCS basketball teams in both the boys and girls division, which consisted of students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, took part in a single-elimination tournament to crown a couple of champions.
By the end of the playoffs, two teams stood on top, the Discovery School at Reeves Rogers Dolphins in the boys division and the John Pittard Pride on the girls side.
Even with a 6-3 regular season record and No. 3 seed going into the tournament, the Dolphins knew they were peaking at the right time, Discovery School Extended School Program Director and basketball coach Jason Page said.
Led by starters, Jordan Burchfield, Evan Alford, Joseph Howard, Noah Johnson and Zion Swader, the Dolphins knocked out Bradley and Scales in the semifinals and finals, respectively, to win the title. Those were two of the teams that defeated the Dolphins during the season.
The coolest thing about winning was the response their fellow classmates and teachers gave them when they came back to school the following week, Page said.
“The support has been amazing,” he said. “Our principal declared a day of no homework in honor of the championship, so that made the team very popular throughout the school. I have received congratulations from many former players. The players are like celebrities at school, even having the younger kids ask for autographs. The trophy is proudly displayed by our front office, we have pictures on the website and the sign in front of the building displays the team’s accomplishment as champions. It has been a big deal around school and something that everyone has been excited about.”
As for the girls champions, the John Pittard Lady Pride led by first-grade teacher and head coach Anita Spann and assistant Lauren Jones.
The Pride finished with only one loss on the season.
However, they got revenge and beat undefeated Scales in the finals, 34-27.
“Winning the title meant the completion to a puzzle,” Spann said. “At the beginning of the season, we did not have too many expectations since we were only returning three players from the previous season. However, during the season the team developed a focus in mind and a goal to obtain. We knew we could do it and had the ability to do it, but we just had to believe in ourselves. We maintained this motto this year, ‘How we practice is how we play. Work hard, play hard.’ Winning the championship was what we had been working forward to all this season.”
Listening to both winning coaches, you could tell the excitement they have not only for their players, but also everybody else at the school.
Tournament week also consisted of nearly 7,500 MCS students getting a chance to watch the MTSU women’s basketball team in action on Dec. 4 against Austin Peay for a 11 a.m. tip-off.
MCS Human Resources Director Ralph Ringstaff said everyone had a good time and the league’s regular season champions were honored during the 70-56 Blue Raider win over APSU.
“We had both the girls and boys regular season champs participates in the tunnel before the game and at half time,” Ringstaff said. “This year the Scales girls went undefeated in the regular season and Bradley boys were the regular season champs. The MTSU game was a huge experience of all of the students and I am sure it increased the excitement for our tournament.”
Overall, it was a terrific way for the MCS players to end their season on a positive note getting a chance to see one of the best women’s basketball teams in the nation and competing for their own league title.