After watching his basketball squad dwindle to only seven players after once numbering 14, Ross Carpenter was concerned his crew might not again know the thrill of victory.
The Rim Country Middle School seventh-grade boys coach shouldn't have been worried. Since the loss of the players caused mostly by academic problems the Mavericks have been on a roll. Currently, the team stands 7-5 but most importantly is 7-1 in the White Mountain League. Just last Saturday, the Mavs won the Joseph City Invitational Tournament.
"We're down to seven, but we've played good defense and ran the fast break," Carpenter said.
Three of the losses which blemish the Mavericks' record were incurred in the Copper State Jam Tournament two weeks ago.
The RCMS seventh-graders entered the eighth-grade tournament, held in Wilson Dome, only because another school had dropped out. They were asked to fill the void in the field and played well, Carpenter said.
At the Joseph City tournament, which was exclusively for seventh-grade teams, Carpenter's Mavericks proved they were the equal of most any small school team. After receiving a bye in the opening round, the Mavs went on to whip Holbrook 53-33 and Winslow 37-30.
In the victory over Holbrook, Derek Hoosava heated up the nets for a game high 22 points. Shelton Keith finished with 12 and Jacob Winans and Josh Blalock had seven each.
The tournament championship win over Winslow turned into a well-rounded scoring affair that saw six of the RCMS players light up the scoreboard.
Blalock led the way with 11 points, Winans had nine and Hoosava seven. Also Scoring were Keith (4), Brandon Buckner (3) and Bryan Schwind (2).
The key to the victory, Carpenter said, came in the third quarter when the Mavs battled back from a one-point halftime deficit to take a 25-19 lead.