By ERIK STORDAHL | SportStars
Longfellow Middle School-Berkeley coasted to another championship when they defeated King Middle School-Berkeley at the City of Walnut Creek Basketball Invitational on March 16.
The tournament was hosted by Foothill Middle School of Walnut Creek and featured eight middle schools from the East Bay. Longfellow was heavily favored entering the invitational.
“We’re nine deep,” coach Wallace Johnson said. “All those kids can play.”
Zachary Fleming, who was named tournament MVP, Bryant Monroe, also named All-Tournament, and Calvin Randolph paced the Tigers in each of the three games. But they didn’t expect their first game to be their toughest test.
“We played WCI (Walnut Creek Intermediate) in the first round,” Johnson said. “And I think we underestimated them, and you can never do that in a tournament.”
Indeed, in a tournament like this one, any team was capable of running the table. After all, Joaquin Moraga and Stanley-Lafayette, seeded No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, lost in the first round.
Longfellow held it together and beat WCI comfortably by 12 points. From there it was smooth sailing for the Tigers as they beat Albany “by at least 30 points” in the semis then King-Berkeley “by at least 30 points” in the finals. Even with some of the top seeds ousted in the first round, why did Longfellow dominate?
“They come to work hard every day,” coach Charles Blackwell said. “And if they don’t work they run. “¦ It’s a team thing or else they have to sit on the bench. I you’re out there being solo, then you’re on the bench.”
After getting out to a big lead on King in the finals, the Tigers were able to play their subs the entire fourth quarter.
“Everybody loved it,” Blackwell said. “Cause the starters are rooting on the bench guys to score. So, it’s a team effort.”
Basketball is just one of the sports in which these schools compete. There’s also girls volleyball, golf, flag football, soccer, cross country and track.
“This was the 12th year I was involved in hosting (the basketball tournament),” said Wes Allnutt, program coordinator for the City of Walnut Creek. “The league has been running it for quite a few years beyond that. I’d say 25-plus years.”
SOFTBALL: San Ramon Slammers tryouts
Tryouts for the San Ramon Slammers Select/Travel summer girls fast pitch softball teams are coming up on April 28-29 at San Ramon Central Park, Field 3.
The season starts in June and goes through August and entails summer tournament play “” roughly two per month “” with possible play into late fall. San Ramon Softball prides its organization in fielding experienced and professional level coaches, who focus on developing each player by teaching skills to get each and every player throughout our system ready for high school softball and beyond, regardless of their age.
Rosters are age appropriate and as small as possible to maximize playing time. San Ramon SELECT Softball is a non-profit (501c) organization that offers reasonably priced, high-level softball for players 9-16. The programÃŸ strives to keep costs affordable, only needing to charge a reasonable break-even fee. San Ramon SELECT Softball is co-sponsored by the City of San Ramon and has access to San Ramon City Parks and private fields for practices and home games. For those who want to participate in the 2012 softball season you need to attend tryouts. Prospective players can RSVP via email to email@example.com to reserve your time. Here’s a breakdown of teams: 10u (girls born in 01, 02); 12u (birthdates in 99, 00); 14u, 13 & 14 year old (birthdates in 97, 98); 16u (birthdates in 96, 95)
For more info, visit.sanramonfastpitchsoftball.com, facebook.com/sanramonbaseball.
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.