The Crescenta Valley High School boys aren’t the only teams playing winning basketball this season. As the varsity heads into the CIF playoffs riding a Pacific League championship and the junior varsity and frosh/soph teams enjoy undefeated league seasons, a group of eighth graders from Rosemont Middle School won second place over President’s Day weekend at the largest middle school tournament in the U.S., the San Gabriel Valley Invitational. The tourney draws hundreds of teams from all over the Southwest.
Highlights of the team’s weekend included a nail-biter against Chandler, Arizona’s Team Artis, coached by mid-’90s Philadelphia Eagle and Arizona State University football and basketball star Carlos Artis. CV forward Will Smiley’s scoring and rebounding, guard Joseph Suh’s defense and penetration, guard Grady Schilling’s long-range shooting, forward Brian Erickson’s rebounding and defense and guard Michael Seh’s steady ball handling keyed the tense victory.
With the first unit spent, CV’s second unit shined against Team Nikos from Laguna Niguel. Guard Cameron Cuesta’s strong lefty drives, guard Henry Alvarez’s nifty assists, post Jack Doloszycki’s reverse finishes, guard Garen Kajejian’s long 3s, guard Noah Domingo’s ball handling and leadership and forward Frankie Ramos’s rebounding and timely shot-blocking sparked the 23-point blowout.
After decisive victories against the Ventura County Swoosh and Rancho Cucamonga Dominators, CV came up four points short in a physical, hotly contested championship against Newport Lightning Basketball Club from Newport Beach.
“We overcame adversity as a team,” said Coach Scott Alvarez. “With Grady and Will fouling out, and Joseph playing with four fouls at the end, we still had the ball and a chance to take the lead. [Newport] is a top-level club with four six-footers and an outstanding point guard, but we matched their physicality and took them to the final seconds. For a bunch of boys from a single middle school, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
CV’s trophy will be on display at Rosemont Middle School, after the team also enjoyed an undefeated middle school season, winning the district title under head coach Brent Ballard and athletic director Roger Sondergaard.
Contributed by Coach Scott ALVAREZ