The Newport-Mesa Tar Heels boys fifth-grade team capped off an exciting season by winning a 2013 All-Net national championship at Fullerton College Sunday.
The Tar Heels went 5-0 over the weekend in the top division and beat rival Yorba Linda Pumas twice to win the title. After placing second in regular-season play and in All-Net Sectionals, the boys from Newport-Mesa willed their way to the championship.
In pool play, the Tar Heels opened with the previously undefeated Pumas, who were 18-0 coming into the game and had beaten the Tar Heels three times during the season and playoffs.
The Tar Heels were prepared for the battle and came out on top, 46-39, to take the first game of the playoffs. The Tar Heels beat Palo Alto, 54-35, RSM PD, 39-35, and Redwood, 52-40, setting up the championship game against Yorba Linda.
The Tar Heels started cold in the championship game down 7-1 to start and ended the quarter down, 9-3.
Troy Smith and John Humphreys both scored in the quarter and Smith grabbed two big rebounds.
In the second quarter, the Tar Heels worked hard defensively led by Nic Ayala and Luke Hatfield and had key baskets from Jack McKenna, John Humphreys and Luke Bashore heading into halftime down just six.
The second half was a different game for the Tar Heels, who dug in defensively and scored 15 points in the third quarter with a key three-pointer from Jack Rettig, two offensive rebounds and a score for Clay Liolios and consecutive free throws from Haig Mavusi to end the quarter up, 30-29.
In the final quarter, the Tar Heels held the Pumas to just six points and scored on multiple possessions from McKenna and Liolios to win going away, 43-35.
The Tar Heels averaged 46.8 points per game and held opponents to 36.8 points per game, which was best in the tournament.
On the season, the Tar Heels went 19-4 and averaged 47.56 ppg and held opponents to 33.26 ppg, which was tops in the 32-team league.
Coaches Scott Stucki and Todd Bashore praised the team for their effort over the last month of play.
"We were very proud of the team and what they accomplished together by working hard," Stucki said. "We had many different players step-up during sectionals and nationals, which allowed us to succeed as a team. We also wanted to thank Cade Overfelt [who broke his arm in a tournament in January] for being the No. 1 fan and a coach of the team."
— Reader submission