Mt. Juliet Middle School basketball has numerous state championships. The girls’ team, under coach Rick Johnson, has six titles.
Now, the middle boys’ basketball team can hang its second state championship after it knocked off Siegel Middle School, 48-32, at Dickson County High School on Saturday.
The team had a fantastic season, winning 26 games and losing only one. This team specialized in an intense defensive pressure team and by limiting their own turnovers. It was effective with the three-point shots while moving the ball through the offense to their big men.
The team won the Oakland Christmas Tournament, beating Oakland Middle School in the championship. It also won the area district tourney by beating Knox Doss and Station Camp. It then beat Clarksville Northeast for the sub-sectional title.
In the state sectional tournament the Middle Bears handily knocked off Rockvale Middle School in the first game of the tournament. In game two, the Bears had to beat Blackman Middle School for a third time this season in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.
“The game against Blackman was a very intense game,” said Trent Fortner, who’s son, Jack, is a guard for the Bears. “The Bears defense did a fantastic job creating turnovers and denying the Blackman big men the ball.”
The only loss this season was to Blackman in double overtime at Blackman Middle School.
In the championship game against Siegel Middle School, the Bears’ defense just overwhelmed the Siegel’s offense attempts to move the ball. The Bears led by as much as 22 points in the third quarter as it eventually wrapped up the championship by defeating Siegel, 48-32, to bring home the state title. The Bears had three players on the all-tournament team, Riggs Abner, Zach Blair and Josh Keck.
“This is a team that really pulled together the whole season. This team genuinely likes one another and that made for a great season of lifting up one another.” Fortner said Sunday not only as a proud father, but also proud of the accomplishments these boys made.
“Throughout the season the team made seamless transitions of players entering the game that showed no superstars, but a whole team of well prepared players that filled each role they were asked to play. This team will also finish with a grade-point average above 3.5, which is just as impressive as its on-court performance.
The team includes Riggs Abner, Blake Anderson, Zach Blair, Jacob Burge, Matt Delfendahl, Jack Fortner, Zach Freeman, Eli Gamble, Josh Keck, Camren Malone, Owen Rodriguez and Bodie Wells. The head coach is Jonathan Drake, and assistant coaches are Josh Marlowe and Andrew Begley.
George Page is sports editor for Mt. Juliet News. Follow him on Twitter @pageplaybook.