‘An exciting atmosphere’: Middle school basketball bounces into start of season


Photo credit: Danielle LeNoir

Sixth grader Bella Hansen shoots a ball at the team’s last game. They played Windward last Friday, Dec. 10, where they lost 8-38. “We learned the importance of having a good balance between having a strong defense and being aggressive,” seventh grader, Paloma Lebenzon said.

By Surya Patil , Staff Reporter

With two away games already under their belt, the middle school basketball team has bounced right into the start of the season. Their season began on Nov. 22 and wraps up between late January and early February, depending on how far they get into league playoffs.

The team is split up into two teams, an A team, the competing team, and a B team, the practicing team. Both teams’ practice simultaneously on Archer’s basketball courts. Dani LeNoir is the head coach of both teams and has been coaching Archer’s middle school basketball team for four years.

“This is one of the best teams that I’ve been able to coach while I’ve been here at Archer. We have got a lot of great talent,” LeNoir said. “Especially, [considering they] are all in sixth and seventh grade. There is a lot of talent at such a young age that I have not seen in the past, so it is really exciting.”

The practices begin with a dynamic warm-up and then a short race for speed in order to warm up the players’ muscles. After a complete warm-up, they run drills and learn new plays to implement in their games. They often review the rulebook and then play scrimmages to imitate a game-like atmosphere.

“When we all bond together during practices — like when we play scrimmages — we always have fun and a good time,” Paloma Lebenzon a seventh grader on the team, said.

Last Monday, the team scrimmaged against Westside Neighborhood School and lost 61-16. Their first game that counted towards their league points occurred on Friday, where they faced Windward and lost 38-8.

“I am really proud of how we did and the effort that we gave. The team never ever, ever [put] their heads down,” LeNoir said. “It was always an exciting atmosphere. Whenever we would make a shot you would think that it was the game winning shot, everybody would be jumping up and down — screaming and cheering each other on. I am really happy with the trajectory of where we’re going.”

Most of the players on the team are new to basketball and haven’t been had much experience playing in a team environment. For this reason, she believes the most important thing to teach her team, aside from the rulebook and plays, is the importance of communication.

Whenever we would make a shot you would think that it was the game winning shot, everybody would be jumping up and down — screaming and cheering each other on. I am really happy with the trajectory of where we’re going.”

— Danielle LeNoir

“I started playing basketball when I was 5. And I have been on a couple teams, but none of them were in a league — they were not really competitive,” sixth grader Caroline Muldaur said. “I was in for about three-fourths of it, and for one-fourth of the game, I was on the bench. But, I think it was a great experience both times because I could watch while I was on the bench. I saw how good we are and how much we have improved, which was really cool to watch. And then ,when I was playing, I could just be in it.”

The team has a few more games in January before they head off to play in the league playoffs. The initial playoff game takes place on Jan. 31. They will advance to the semifinals if they win the first playoff game and then to the championship if they win the semifinal game.

“Our strength is definitely our ‘stick-to-itiveness.’ We have a lot of great energy and determination. No matter how a game is going, our team is always there to pick each other up and they never ever, ever stop playing as hard as they possibly can, ” LeNoir said. “We will have a lot of returners next year, and they will already know what they’re doing. We already have a leg up for next year’s season. But, my number one goal is for them to learn this new sport and have fun doing it.”