Varsity Boys Basketball Wins State Title

Martin Gomez, Staff Writer

After defeating the Wagner Thunderbirds with a score of 77-64 on March 9, the Varsity boys became State Champions, claiming their second 5A-state title in the past three years.

“It’s so rare to win two and two out of three doesn’t just happen,” Coach Duane Gregory said. “We feel very fortunate for being able to get that second title.”

Senior C.J. Smith was awarded the MVP of the final game, scoring 24 points.

“The result was what mattered the most,” he said. “But it was awesome to receive an award like this. I’ve worked hard all my life for this, and to know it finally paid off is a blessing.”

The team went 38-2 to close out the season, with their only two losses coming consecutively and in between two 19 game winning streaks.

“You don’t have that kind of a record if you don’t have a good focus,” Gregory said.  “This group did a real good job at taking things one game at a time. I didn’t have to emphasize it at all because the boys took initiative and did it themselves.”

Junior Dwaylen Russell said the team’s dominance is in part due to the coaches’ and their styles.

“We were able to keep that level of play because we all got along,” he said. “The chemistry on the team was second to none.”

Russell believes the team can make it back to the playoffs next season.

He said, “We have enough playoff experience coming back next season to make another deep playoff run.”

Gregory said the focus of the offseason will be to improve on some of the team’s flaws while also working with new starters.

“We will try to improve on things that need to be worked on,” he said. “We will graduate our five seniors, so those are five pairs of shoes that will be hard to fill. But we have some good young guys that are coming up, and they’re excited about the opportunity.”