Title Chasing

Boys and Girls Basketball Teams Seeking Championship Titles

Tate Hutter, Reporter

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After making it to the state championship game last year, the boy’s basketball team is once again ready to chase that elusive title. Having come so close to winning it all, the boys are not letting anything stand in their way of reaching the title game again this year. With this extra motivation, national ranking sites such as Max Preps are considering them one of the most competitive and dangerous teams in the state.     

         “Making it to the championship game last season definitely gives us all drive and motivation to make it back. Except this time, we want to come out on top,” senior Isaac Blakeslee said.    

   With the loss of starters Isaac Johnson and Niekie Thomas, this year’s team will be lead by a trio of seniors in Cameron Davis, Jared Ridder and Isaac Blakeslee.

   “I would say we all have leadership roles,” Blakselee said. “Holding each other accountable and leading by example for the younger players after we are gone.”   

   The boys opened the season in the Jonesboro and Fayetteville Tournaments where they made it to the championship game of both. Although they lost both of these games, the Chiefs would go on a six game winning streak before entering the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

   “Playing in the TOC is incredible. It’s the best high school atmosphere in the country and it’s just great to be able to represent Kickapoo,” senior Cameron Davis said.

   The Chiefs went 1-2 in what is considered the best high school basketball tournament in the country. Their losses came at the hands of Montverde Academy (FL), the number two nationally ranked team, and Greenforest High School (GA), who are also ranked in the top 25. The team would end the tournament with a win over Republic. With experience against these top tier teams, the Chiefs feel more prepared than ever to make a strong run in the postseason.

   “I feel great about the rest of the year.,” Davis explained. “These are our most important games, and I know our team is excited to compete. As long as we play with energy and pride every night, I’ll let the results fall where they may.”

   The girl’s basketball team is coming off an equally impressive season as the boys, after going 29-3 and capturing a state championship. With this in mind, the team’s returning players are more eager than ever to pursue another state championship title.

   “Having won a state championship last year, we know we have a target on our backs now,” senior Jordan Sanders admitted. “So this season I think it’s important to play with the same grit and relentlessness as we did last season.”

   Yet they too will be looking to replace a number of key players and will be turning to seniors Jordan Sanders and Ari Acuff, as well as junior Jordan Wersinger for leadership.

“We’ve had a lot of new and returning players step up and find their new roles on the team. We’ve all been working really hard to be just as good as last year. It takes every one of us to do our part on the team to be successful,” Wersinger said.

   The Lady Chiefs started the season with two strong wins before suffering their first loss to Jefferson City, one of the top ranked teams in the state. The girls would pick up eight more wins, including a championship win in the Stephanie Phillips Classic, before falling to North Little Rock in the championship game of the Pink and White Tournament.

   “I believe that playing tough teams like North Little Rock is good for us. It allows us to experience a higher level of competition, helps us find things to improve on, and shows us how we compare overall to other good teams,” Sanders said.

   With a solid start to the season and a group of talented starters, the Lady Chiefs will look to once again go deep into the postseason.

“At this point we are really focusing on taking it one game at a time,” Wersinger explained. “I truly believe we have improved as a team each game. As long as we continue to compete and play our best, we will be where we want to be at the end of March.”

Senior Cameron Davis drives to the basket against Greenforest High School (GA) in the 33rd annual Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. Photo courtesy of Riley McCullough.

   While both teams have had their fair share of championship wins, 2003 has been the only year when the boys and girls have both won the state championship. With benches full of talented players and a committed fan base, the teams feel that 2017 may be the year that it happens again.

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Title Chasing