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Middle school players gain experience

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By Ryan Naus

The Williamstown middle school basketball teams were battling reduced numbers, but not reduced optimism.

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On the girls’ side, they had players for a sixth and seventh grade team, but not an eighth grade team. On the boys’ side, they were able to field a team for seventh and eighth grade games, but not for a sixth grade team.

The eighth grade boys’ team ended their season with a 13-3 record and coach A.J. Mason said a highlight of the season was winning the Augusta Tip-off Tournament, defeating Augusta, Bracken County and St. Patrick on their way to a 9-0 start.

Mason believes that the reason for the team’s success was that the talent level didn’t drop off when he had to go to his bench.

“All of them stood out because everyone contributed each game,” Mason said. “We probably had a new leading scorer with each game. It’s nice to go eight or nine deep and not lose anything after the starting five. I was pleased with their unselfishness as a team. They didn’t care about who scored or succeeded as long as the team did.”

Mason believes that this eighth grade group of players will continue to have success as they move into high school.

“The future looks good for them,” Mason said. “They were a smart, intelligent group of kids. They knew what they had to do and they executed in all aspects of the game. We always tried to get better, game after game. They wanted to learn more about the game and they wanted to be successful at every level, not just with basketball.”

The seventh grade team didn’t enjoy the same amount of success, but they did earn three wins, finishing with a 3-13 record.

“Winning our first game was a highlight because they’ve struggled since elementary school,” Mason said. “Winning three games was good for them. I told them to stay positive and keep working hard because when they are juniors and seniors, they will understand the game more.”

The Demons earned a win against Gallatin County and two wins against Deming.

The seventh grade team was led by Colin Albers and Cameron Varner because “having them on the floor always seemed to help out the team,” said Mason.

Although the seventh graders struggled, Mason believes they will enjoy success if they stick with the game.

“There’s a lot of talent there and they’ve got a good work ethic. I think they will keep improving their win totals as they go through school,” Mason said. “They keep working hard and they never give up and as a coach, that’s all you can ask from them.”

Since there was no eighth grade team on the girls’ side, they often had to play a grade level up, but coach Stacey Montgomery believes that will help in the long run.

“The group of sixth graders I had are pretty talented, so we didn’t struggle too much until we were playing at the eighth grade level because they were playing two grades behind. It challenged us and is making us tougher. It prepares them for a challenge down the road.”

In sixth grade games, the Lady Demons were 8-0. In seventh grade games, they went 3-7 and in eighth grade games 1-3.

“This team stands out because every player is a valuable part of our team and every player did their job this year,” Montgomery said. “Every player is a valuable part of our team and every player did their job this year. We are excited to see them all grow in the off-season.”

The seventh grade team played in the NCKC championship game against Walton-Verona, but came away with a loss after being ahead at halftime.

“I’m proud of them and I think there is a lot of potential in that group of girls,” Montgomery said. “I’m anxious to see what the future holds for them.”