Hoops and highlights: Middle school basketball wraps winter season

Sixth+grader+Bella+Hansen+dribbles+to+the+basket.+This+home+game+was+against+Brentwood+and+resulted+in+a+18-16+loss+for+Archer.+I+got+stronger%2C+both+as+a+player+and+as+a+person+throughout+the+season%2C+and+saw+improvement+in+myself%2C+Hansen+said.

Photo credit: Rebecca Aranada

Sixth grader Bella Hansen dribbles to the basket. This home game was against Brentwood and resulted in a 18-16 loss for Archer. “I got stronger, both as a player and as a person, throughout the season and saw improvement in myself,” Hansen said.

By Surya Patil, Staff Reporter

Two hoops. Four quarters. Twenty-four minutes determines it all. The middle school basketball team’s regular season concluded in the middle of January, and the team then headed into their post-season Jan. 31. Their playoff run ended in a 28-10 loss in the first round against Westside Neighborhood School.

The team played WNS at the beginning of their season, where they lost 61-16. Dani LeNoir, the head coach of the A and B middle school basketball teams, believed the season was extremely successful. She said that the score and the way the team played during the play-off game against WNS encapsulated the team’s growth.

“They were really applying every single thing that we have learned in practice, and it just didn’t fall away with WNS,” LeNoir said. “We went from losing by 50 plus points to really shutting them down defensively, and we implemented a new defensive strategy, which was something that we were really harping on in practice.”

Out of the five games the team played during their season, Archer won two of them. They won an away game at St. Mathews School 17-8 Jan. 13. Their second win was against St. Paul School where they won the game 26-9. The three losses were against WNS, Geffen Academy and Brentwood School.

“My favorite moment in the season was making my first basket in a game,” sixth grader Bella Hansen said. “I thought ‘Oh my God. I just did that.’ It makes you feel really happy.”

LeNoir said the team’s second win against St. Paul was the best moment of the season. She attributed this to the win being unexpected and the team’s fearlessness on the court during the game.

“St. Matthews was taller than us and bigger than us. I remember walking in there and thinking ‘this is going to be a really difficult game,'” LeNoir said. “But they all stepped up and played so hard, and because of that we were able to break away the score. Everybody got to play and everybody really shined. At the beginning of the season, people are a little nervous but there wasn’t an ounce of that.”

The team’s practices throughout the season took place Monday through Thursday after school. Their practices had a set structure and were comprised of a dynamic warm-up, mini-games, running offensive and defensive drills, and ending off in a scrimmage.

“I tried to have our practices be really fun and engaging for them. They also knew there is a time and a place for us to be fooling around and making jokes and when it’s time to get to work,” LeNoir said. “I think making that environment more lighthearted, but also having high expectations, really allowed them to thrive throughout the season.”

Seventh grader Sheila Micelli said the regular practices helped her recognize aspects of her own game she needed to improve upon as well as the aspects of the team’s game that needed to be strengthened.

“You learn your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses,” Micelli said, “and through them, you also learn your own strengths and weaknesses.”

Due to the team being comprised of sixth and seventh graders, all of the players will have the opportunity to play at least one more season in middle school before they can play high school basketball.

“One hundred percent I am going to play again,” Hansen said. “I’m actually very excited to see what our team looks like next year, because I know a lot of people will be seventh graders and eighth graders, and I think that’ll make our team a lot stronger. I am excited to see how we’ll do next year.”