Riding the winning tide of an aggressive breakneck-style of play, the Rim Country Middle School Maverick boys' basketball team captured the White Mountain League championship posting a 12-0 record.
Coached by RCMS teacher Ross Carpenter, the team capped the highly successful season whipping St. Johns 47-28 in the championship of the WML tournament played last weekend in Wilson dome.
Earlier in the tournament, the Mavs shot down Joseph City 41-15 and Snowflake 39-34.
Following the tournament win, Carpenter praised the team as "a great bunch of athletes who were very coachable."
The key to their success, he added, was "they worked hard on defense, dove on the floor for loose balls, and were never out-hustled."
Using a 1-3-1 trapping zone defense, the seventh-graders were adept at turning forced turnovers into fast-break layups.
The pressure defensive ploys were effective all season long Carpenter said, because "we had a lot of quick guards and strong rebounders."
The Mavericks rolled untested most of the season, but the group did survive a scare Jan. 18 in Show Low by posting a come-from-behind 35-34 victory.
At halftime, the Cougars led 23-17 and were rolling toward an upset. Led by Mike Waterman's nine points, the Mavs rallied for the nail-biting win.
Most of the season the team thrived on a well-balanced scoring attack in which many of the 13 players on the roster contributed offensively.
During one stretch, however, Donnie Wilbanks had an unusually hot hand -- scoring 18, 14 and 26 points against Holbrook, Winslow and Cibecue.
With the WML hoop season at an end, many of the players on the team will turn out for the RCMS track and field team, which begins practices in two weeks.