The South Orange 8th grade boys basketball team went from worst to first, winning the Suburban Essex League championship on March 9th.
For a team that went winless (0-14) last season, winning the Suburban League Boys 8th grade Basketball Championship was just a dream for this year's South Orange team. Playing against powerful and experienced teams from Essex County, South Orange held their own during the regular season (10-4), beating some of the top teams along the way and finishing as the 3rd seed in the playoffs. That included defeating the then undefeated West Essex team, who was out to avenge that only loss in the championship game. Before meeting West Essex in the final, South Orange showed amazing skill and fortitude grinding out playoff wins against their cross-town rivals Maplewood and avenging a loss to the bigger and stronger Montclair team.
In the championship game, South Orange got off to a very slow start, trailing by 10 at halftime. However, the grit grit and resolve that they showed all season returned in the 2nd half, slowly chipping away at the lead until they went ahead with just minutes remaining. West Essex fought back to tie the game at 50-50 with less than 10 seconds remaining. With 0:00 left on the clock, the stunned crowd watched as a long and high 3-pointer from South Orange guard Hunter Arnott hit nothing but net... and the dream had come true!
The championship win was the result of hard work and determination by the entire team, and along the way the boys had a lot of fun. Classic win-win.
Names for attached photo:
First row: Mark Armstrong, Kojo Agbe-Laee, Jarrett Nelson, Hunter Arnott, Dylan Sullivan, Enoch Urbina
Second row: Matthew Motiwalla, Jalen Hardy, Tyler Lingham, Emanuel LaCon, KJ Cook, Ryan Donaty
Coaches: Jerry Donaty, Michael Sullivan, Emmett Hardy