By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
The Southern Middle School eighth-grade Warriors basketball team capture the school's sixth boy's state championship a few weeks ago at the Kentucky Basketball Academy in Lexington, KY.
The Warriors took on Monroe and Pikeville in pool play action, and won both of those games. In the first round of single elimination tournament play, the Warriors defeated West Jessamine, 54-30. Southern knocked off one of the tourney favorites in the second round, as the Warriors took down JCTMS, 46-30. In the third round, the Warriors defeated Shelby West by a score of 55-28. Southern advanced to the final four after a 57-46 win over McCreary County.
In the final four game, the Warriors overpowered the Greyhounds of Paris, 48-29. In the championship game, Southern squared off against cross town rival Meece Middle – a rematch of the 2013 7th grade championship game. Southern would hold off the Briar Jumpers to claim the state championship trophy. The Warriors closed out their season undefeated for the third straight year, finishing with an overall three year record of 115-0.
It was a great run for the group of Southern eighth-graders, a run that included zero losses to their competition.
“The pressure for this group was really on from the very start of the season, considering that the group of players in front of them that are now freshmen at SWHS had also won three state championship and finished with a remarkable three year record of 112-3,” told head coach Chris Fitzgerald. “For this year's group of young men to pull together an attempt to improve on that is unbelievable.”
Receiving All-State All-Tournament first team honors from Southern were Steven Fitzgerald and Logan Dykes. Danny Butt was selected as All-tournament MVP. In the 13 year history of the KBA boy's state tournaments, Southern Middle School is the first and only school to ever win 6th, 7th and 8th grade state tournament back to back titles.
“As the middle school head coach, my job is to ensure that each and every player continues to improve year after year, and more importantly, make sure they are ready for high school by the time they leave middle school,” explained Fitzgerald. “Winning state championship and going undefeated just makes it that much more special.”