Middle School Boys Basketball Wins Conference Championship

Coach LTC John Samples
The O’Neal Middle School boys’ basketball team capped off their undefeated season with a heart stopping victory in the South Eastern Middle School Athletic Conference (SEMSAC) championship game on Monday, February 10 against the Berean Baptist Academy Bulldogs. Throughout the game were many lead changes between the two teams, but none greater than the five point deficit the Falcons found themselves in with 1:38 left in the game - and the Bulldogs had the ball. Great teams demonstrate their mettle in times of great adversity. That is exactly what these boys did.   After a timeout the Falcons double-teamed the Bulldogs’ primary ball handler. The Falcon pressure was too great and caused a Berean turnover. Immediately after securing the ball, O’Neal pushed the ball in transition. We were able to make a layup while getting fouled. Berean tried to push the ball down the court after the Falcon three point play but steady pressure and gritty defense led to another Bulldog turnover. O’Neal quickly pushed the ball down the court and easily scored again. In less than a minute, the Berean lead was erased. With the crowd, the momentum, and the continued will to succeed on their side the Falcons held the Bulldogs scoreless for the remainder of the game while they rattled off four more points. In the last 1:38 this team of believers never quit. In the last 1:38 this team of champions scored eight points and did not allow their opponent to even get off a good shot at the basket. The final score was 47 – 44. And a perfect season that will be very difficult to match will be forever etched in O’Neal history.

Someone since the championship game referred to this as a magical season. I thought about that idea for a second and concluded that there was no magic at all. There was no illusion or sleight of hand. Everything that this team accomplished was out in front of the world to see on a daily basis. They worked hard every day and every play. They recognized that they were a part of something truly unique every time they put on the O’Neal jersey. They were willing to learn to improve so that they could better the team. They believed in one another. This team provided us all with an example to follow. There were leaders, followers, workers, thinkers, cheerleaders, smilers all coming together to form a superb team. These young men – eight graders: Boyd Kenny, Will Slagle, Max Martin, seventh graders: Gunnar Adams, Max Pashley, Henry Neville, Chris Walters, Dakota Bender, Penn Morris, David White, Harrison Franklin, Jacob Shepherd, Kenan Van Scoyoc, Gavin Rabon, and sixth graders: Will Huntley, Jack Halloran, Tajh Ariza, Jacob Graham, and Corbin Weeks added to the O’Neal culture of excellence. These players were expertly rotated on and off the court each game by Coach Marcus Millard but they wove themselves into extraordinary team all on their own. They are young men of exceptional character who happen to be very good at basketball. I said on day one of practice that we were going to go from good to great. I set my standard too low. These Falcons took us from good to perfect.
Serving Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Whispering Pines, Sanford, West End, Aberdeen, and areas surrounding Moore County, NC.

The O’Neal School
3300 Airport Road
Southern Pines, NC 28387

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