The domination at the junior high boys level continued for North Adams as the eighth grade boys, under the direction of Coach Eric Toole, matched their seventh grade counterparts with a clean sweep of the regular season and tournament championships of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. Their latest title, that of SHAC Tournament Champions, came as a result of a 48-37 win over Eastern Brown in the tournament finals on Feb. 17, in a game played at West Union High School.
The eighth grade Green Devils finished their 2015-16 season with an outstanding 18-1 record, the only blemish being a two-point loss to Fayetteville in the regular season. To get to the tourney finals, the Devils knocked off Lynchburg 47-26 and Ripley 34-29, and they faced number two seeded Eastern for the crown.
“Tonight was a hard fought game,” said Coach Toole. “We knew coming in that Eastern was a tough team and they came out ready for us tonight. My guys responded so I’m really proud of how they kept their composure in a tight game and executed down the stretch.”
Even coming into the game with just one defeat, the Devils were in for a battle against a tough group of Warriors, looking for a tourney title of their own. After the first quarter, the Warriors held a 10-8 lead, holding the North Adams offense to single digits, though the Devils got three-point goals from Cameron Young and Zach Osborne.
Eastern continued to hang tough throughout the second period, though the Devils rallied to grab the halftime lead at 19-17. Osborne hit another three in that second stanza, tallying seven points in all, and with baskets by Dalton Gardner and Austin McCormick , helped put their team on top. McCormick had been the biggest offensive threat all season for North Adams, but the Eastern defense concentrated on keeping the ball away from him the entire game.
Try as they may, the Devils could not pull away in the third quarter, as the Warriors got three-pointers from Dustin Jimison and Jadon Walkup to stay right in the hunt. It was a “Young” attack in the third period as Cameron and Isaac Young accounted for all 12 North Adams points, leaving them with a 31-27 advantage, six minutes from the title.
Despite the Warriors hitting two more treys in the final quarter, the Devils managed to pull away as Osborne continued his big night with a basket and a perfect 6 for 6 performance at the foul line. Add in two baskets each from McCormick and Isaac Young and the Devils outscored Eastern 17-10 to take the 48-37 win and celebrate their SHAC sweep.
With the Eastern defense concentrating so much of their efforts on stopping McCormick inside, it was time for the Devils’ guards to step up and they did in big fashion as Zach Osborne poured in 20 points (including going 10 for 10 from the free throw line), Isaac Young 12, and Cameron Young 8. Even with the defense pounding him, McCormick still managed three baskets and 6 points in the North Adams win.
“Zach always has a way of coming up big in big games for us,” said Coach Toole. “He’s the kind of kid that wants that and always answers the call.”
“It’s been a good year for us. Unfortunately we got the one loss but that happens and we learned from it and bounced back and played well. They’re a great group of guys and I’ve really enjoyed coaching them.”
With an effort to be proud of, the Warriors were led in scoring by 12 points from Titus Burns, with Kaleb Martin adding 7 and Dustin Jimison and Jadon Walkup 6 apiece.
EJH 10 7 10 10 —37
NAJH 8 11 12 17 —48
EJH (37): Burns 4 2-3 12, Jimison 2 0-0 6, Lainhart 1 0-0 2, Walkup 2 0-0 6, Ruckel 1 0-0 2, martin 3 1-2 7, Wiles 1 0-0 2, Team 14 3-5 37.
NAJH (48): C. Young 3 0-0 8, Osborne 4 10-10 20, Gardner 1 0-0 2, I. Young 5 2-3 12, McCormick 3 0-0 6, Team 16 12-13 48.
EJH- Burns 2, Jimison 2, Walkup 2
NAJH- C. Young 1, Osborne 2