The Parks and Recreation Winthrop Blue seventh grade travel basketball team won the Eastern Travel Basketball Championship on March 16. It was a great season for Winthrop Blue who finished its season with a record of 15 wins and 2 losses.
The season started out tough with the first game of the season against Swampscott. It was a close game with Winthrop coming out on top 39-32. The second game was even closer versus Tewksbury. It was a battle back and fourth with Tewksbury getting the edge and winning 35-34 and giving Winthrop its first loss of the season.
The third game of the season was a home game versus Stoneham. Winthrop jumped out to an early lead and never looked back putting on a show for their fans, winning 41-23. The fourth game of the season was against Hamilton Wenham, where once again Winthrop took an early lead and never looked back, winning 42 – 28.
In the fifth game versus Danvers, Winthrop fell behind early by trailing by as much as 14 points, but fought back in the second half and had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but ran out of time, losing their second game of the season, 42-39. That would be the last game the Vikings would lose.
After that loss to Danvers the Vikings would not lose again, finishing the remainder of their season with an eight-game winning streak by taking out Masco White 37-33, Hamilton Wenham 36-23, Lexington 39-29, Swampscott 43-31, Swampscott 42-34, Masco White 34-31, Stoneham 56-35 and Danvers 40-33.
The Vikings won those last eight games in a variety of fashions by overcoming double-digit deficits against Masco, Swampscott and Danvers. The Vikings achieved their first goal of getting either the No. 1 or 2 seed for the championship tournament.
The stage was set for the playoffs and the Vikings were ready. They were playing their best basketball and peaking as a team at the right time. The Vikings played their first game on March 8 against Stoneham. The Vikings came out and set the tempo early. Stoneham had no answer for the trap defense being played by Winthrop as they started the game on an 18-0 run and never looked back, winning the game 66-44. The Vikings had to play again on Saturday against Masco White who played the Vikings tough both times during the regular season, jumping out to early leads. This time the Vikings were prepared from the start of the game and the combination of trap defense and unselfish offense helped the Vikings jump out to an early 20 point-lead and ultimately a 46-30 victory.
The third game was played on Sunday versus Masco Red, a team the Vikings did not see all season. Masco Red came in as the No. 2 seeded team. The game started out once again with a trap defense that Masco had no answer for, and that led to easy fast break points for the Vikings. Masco did make a late run which Winthrop was able to hold off and go on to win 46 – 38.
The Vikings now had to sit back and wait one week for the other teams to compete and see who would come back out of the losers’ bracket to face the Vikings in the championship game on Saturday. The Viking were in a great position by not losing any games as it was a double elimination tournament so whom ever the Vikings played would have to beat them twice in the championship round since all the other teams had already suffered one loss.
The match was set: Winthrop Vikings against Masco Red. It was a good game but the Winthrop team played tough defense and proved to be too much for Masco. The Vikings jumped out on top and never gave up the lead, even when Masco made a run with five minutes left and brought it down to a two- point game. The Vikings fought back, grabbing every loose ball and rebound and making some big foul shots to win the game 56-47.
As head coach of the team I could not be prouder of this group of kids most of whom I have had the benefit of coaching since the fifth grade. This group of kids always played hard, practiced even harder, and were the most unselfish group of kids I have ever coached. They play by our team philosophy that “Hard Work Equals Success” and that no one person is bigger than the team. I can tell you I have never seen a group of kids work harder and make sacrifices to show up at practice whether it was a pre-planned practice or a last-minute practice called by the coaches at the park outside or going out as a team to scout or opponent.