The Rim Country Middle School eighth-grade boys basketball team has probably never heard a single lyric of Queen's mega-hit "We Are the Champions."
But their unfamiliarity with the 1970s classic doesn't mean the song doesn't tell at least part of the story of the team's run to the White Mountain League basketball championship.
The song's chorus is:
"We are the champions, my friends/ And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end./ ... No time for losers / 'cause we are the champions of the world."
The Mavericks did "keep on fighting 'til the end," especially after falling behind 35-30 with about one minute remaining in the championship clash against the St. Johns Redskins.
On March 4, in the WML championship clash in Winslow, the Mavericks rallied to within 35-33 on a clutch three-pointer by Sean Daugherty.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Elden Siverson pilfered an errant pass and scored to deadknot the game 35-35.
With the clock ticking down, Coy Waterman scored off a rebound and Brandon Ford tacked on a last second free throw to rally the Mavs to a dramatic 38-35 come from behind victory.
"We kept playing our hearts out," team member Nick Gonzales said. "We were losing, but we came together with a total team effort."
Coach Grant Coley lauded the entire team, saying, "These young men stepped up when they had to and would not be denied the championship."
Brandon Alexander paved the way to the gold with eight points and five assists. Waterman contributed seven points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots. Sean Daugherty and Landen Johnson scored five points each.
The Mavericks pursuit of the WML championship tipped off March 1 in Wilson dome against the Round Valley Elks.
After thumping the visitors 47-23, the Mavericks advanced to the final four in Winslow.
There, the RCMS players gave a hint of things to come with a 23-19 come from behind victory over Holbrook.
Holbrook led 14-9 at halftime and 19-17 early in the fourth quarter.
The Roadrunners opted to run out the clock with a delay game that eventually proved to be their undoing.
After RCMS got control of the ball on a turnover, Josh Sloan knocked down a jump shot to tie the score 19-19.
With Holbrook's stall ineffective, the Mavericks tacked on four more points off miscues to nail down the four-point win.
Waterman paced the team with eight points, six rebounds and five blocked shots.
It was, however, a gimmick defense led by Elden Siverson that drew the praise of the coach.
"We used a triangle double dog defense that allowed the Roadrunners to get only three (three point shots) and miss them all," he said. The last time we played them, they hit nine three's against us."
Members of the team will now turn their attention to track and field.
Veteran coach Randy Wilcox will return to lead the RCMS boys and girls team into upcoming WML action.