The Monument Academy 8th grade boys’ basketball team played in its first-ever state tournament on March 7-8.
The Lynx lost all four games played at the United States Olympic Training Center and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
“The tournament was well run and the venues were top-notch,” said Monument Academy coach Patrick Brock. “We would like to have done better, but it was a great experience.”
Brock, who has been at the helm of the Lynx for seven seasons, directed his team to an 11-1 regular-season record and the Central Colorado Athletic League championship.
The state tournament team consisted of a mix of seventh- and eighth-graders. The eighth-graders were Canyon Abeyta, Bryce Foster, Kenton Kenley, Eli Gishweller, Connor Lushnat, Holden Wright, Kaizer Yancey and Hunter Robinson. The seventh-graders were Thatcher Crisler, Payton Torrence and Cole Hughes.
JoJo Kitonsa, a seventh-grader, was supposed to be on the state tournament team, but he became sick and had to be hospitalized.
“The kids dedicated the tournament to JoJo,” Brock said.
Hughes and Torrence played through injuries and were not at full strength, according to Brock.
“We were really running nine players when everybody else was going with 13 and 14,” Brock said. “We couldn’t go man defense or we would have been gassed. We had to go zone, and that hurt us when we could not get out on the shooters quick enough.”
The Lynx opened tournament play the morning of March 7 with a 33-32 loss to Heritage White.
“We missed 12 free throws against Heritage and the possible game-winning layup with five seconds left,” Brock said. “It was tough to keep the kids up after losing that game.”
Brock’s team lost to the Glenwood Demons, 42-27, later on March 7. The Lynx lost both of their games on March 8 to Cherry Creek Blue, 64-33, and Mead Mavericks, 50-28.
Glenwood lost the championship game to Fruita Wildcats.
“It seemed like all of the teams we played were bigger than us,” Brock said. “Their focus was on the 3-point shot. We have a lot smaller group, and only a couple of them can relay shoot the 3.”
Brock said he was very proud of his team for giving a strong effort in the tournament.
“The most important thing is that the kids know they are loved just the way they are,” he said. “We want them to be good citizens and teach them a little basketball along the way.
Brock added that in order for his teams to compete better at state in the future they need to develop better 3-point shooters and a stronger defense.
“All championships start with defense,” he said.