CRESTVIEW — A team of basketball Davids from the Hub City traveled to Memphis, Tenn., June 30 through July 6 to take on the nation’s basketball Goliaths.
The Crestview Force — a seventh-grade boys basketball team; there for the Amateur Athletic Union’s Division II national tournament — was pitted against 75 teams from metropolitan areas across the country.
The Force proved it could hang with teams from the big cities.
“Out of the 76 teams that showed up we placed sixth,” assistant head coach Heath Childs said.
The Force, state champions in their division the last two years, also had the highest finish of any Division II team from Florida.
TOP 10 TEAM
“What makes it so special is that we played teams from Virginia Tennessee, New Jersey and Ohio, and they have a bigger pool of players to pull from,” Childs said. “You are talking 23,000 people in Crestview. So it’s special to have kids from one city, and a small city, to go place in the top 10 in the nation.”
While the Force might not have the population pool from which to draw, coming from a small town does have its advantages, Childs said.
“The kids have been playing sports together since they were 5 years old,” he said. “They have been playing football, basketball or something together since then. And this is our fourth year together as a basketball team.
“But really, I think we had a good plan on the offensive end and the defensive said of the ball. Really though, we just have several kids that just won’t quit. There’s no quit in them.”
'ABLE TO GO'
A lack of size was the biggest challenge the Force faced, Childs said.
“Our tallest player is 6-1 and we saw a 6-4 kid,” he said. “We saw a couple of 6-3 kids on the same team and one of them was a guard. As far as height goes, our kids weren’t as tall, but they were skilled and were able to go and go.
“I was anxious about how we would match up with these big kids, but I found out it was hard for them to run with us.”
SMALL CITY, BIG HEART
Childs said the team wants to thank Crestview's community for the role it played in making the trip possible.
“Crestview might be the biggest city in Okaloosa County now, but it still has a small town’s heart,” he said. “We had to raise some money to go up there and the community stepped up and supported us and helped us get up there.
“That’s the thing about Crestview: If you have a sports team or even if you have an individual need, people always seem to step up.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.