For members of the Rim Country Middle School Maverick boys' and girls' basketball teams, the much anticipated 1999 hardwood campaign is about to open.
The eighth-grade boys' team was the first to spring into action playing yesterday, Thursday, against Shelby School in the Tonto Apache gymnasium. (Results not available at press time).
The seventh-grade boys open White Mountain League play at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in Cibecue.
Coach Louie Crabtree's eighth-grade girls' team begins its season at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, against the Show Low Cougars in the opening round of the Winslow Junior High Tournament. The game is to be played in the old WHS gymnasium.
The seventh-grade girls of coaches Nicole Ward and Ned Schall will open the season at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in RCMS gym against Cibecue.
Middle school coaches say their players are champing at the bit to finally play real games after two weeks of preseason practices and conditioning.
Eighth-grade boys and Shelby
Thursday's game against Shelby School was not the first of the season for the Maverick eighth-grade boys. The team participated as a split squad in last week's Copper State Jam held in the Tonto Apache gym.
The two RCMS teams had little formal practice and won only one of five games. The Mavs were badly outscored in the losses.
Coaches evaluated the players during the tournament and made cuts based on those assessments for the WML season that will officially begin at 4:30 p.m Jan. 26 in Cibecue.
The Mavericks have some good athletes but against Shelby -- who does not compete in the WML -- they were playing a seasoned squad that has already played in 25 games.
Against scholastic teams, Shelby sports 19-3 credentials.
In a junior high game played Jan. 14, Shelby slipped passed Big Park 42-41 on a Dallas Rensch jumper with seven seconds remaining. Big Park took a desperation shot at the buzzer but it fell short, Shelby coach Steve Rensch said.
After losing to Shelby by 20 points earlier in the season, Big Park played a "Box and One" -- a combination zone and man-to-man -- on Dallas Rensch and held the team's leading scorer to 12 points. Mark Moore picked up the scoring slack with 11 points. Chicago Houdek tallied nine.
Two days earlier in the Tonto Apache Gym, Shelby struggled through a hard-fought first half before whipping Scottsdale Christian 43-33. It was Shelby's second win over SC this season.
Dallas Rensch scored 21 points, Houdek had 12 and was the team's rebounding leader with nine.
This weekend, Shelby will be in action at the Dilcon Tournament in Winslow.