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Junior Bears keep rolling, run record to 17-0

Thursday, December 18, 2008

(Photo)
MAMMOTH SPRING JUNIOR BEARS: Melbourne Junior High Tournament champs. Photo/Mullins
It took a big third-period blitz for it to happen, but the Mammoth Spring junior Bears remained perfect on the season, racking up their 17th win in a row, with a 40-26 victory over Southside in the finals of the Melbourne Junior High Invitational Tournament Dec. 13.

Mammoth Spring trailed by one point, 13-12, at the break before getting back on track with a productive third period.

The junior Southerners dropped in the first bucket of the second half to move in front 15-12.

But Wayne Coffey (14 points) started a junior Bear run with a pair of charity tosses. Austin Hite (four points) added a bucket in the paint and Garrett Wooldridge (eight points, eight boards, three steals) hit a baseline jumper for the junior Bears. By the time Hite hit his second hoop of the third, Mammoth Spring had went on an 8-zip run to grab the lead at 20-15.

But the junior Bears were not quite done.

After a Southside layup, Mammoth Spring went on another tear.

Houston Cooper (nine points, four assists) drilled a big-time triple and Coffey racked up four straight points to close the book on a 7-0 spurt for Mammoth Spring, giving the junior Bears a 27-17 advantage after three periods of play.

With their foot on the gas, the junior Bears outscored Southside 13-9 down the stretch in the final stanza to take top honors in the tourney, and remain unscathed on the season, with a 40-26 victory over the junior Southerners.

Matt Turnbough finished with three points for Mammoth Spring, with Jordan Combs adding two.

Logan Brown led Southside with 12 points.

Mammoth Spring outscored Highland 20-4 in the second period and 15-5 in the third, to knock off the junior Rebels 49-28 in the semis Dec. 11.

Wooldridge paced the junior Bears with a game-high 22 points.

Coffey added eight and Cooper five for Mammoth Spring.

The junior Bears opened the tournament with a 50-19 win over the host Melbourne junior Bearkatz Dec. 8.

Coffey had 18 points and three steals for Mammoth Spring, while Mason Brown logged nine points. Wooldridge finished with eight points, six assists and three steals. Cooper posted five assists for the junior Bears.

Kyle Smith paced Melbourne with seven points.

As far as his team's 17-0 start is concerned, Mammoth Spring Head Coach Jeremy Cude points to the hard work and desire of his squad, first and foremost.

"The young men I get to coach each day are responsible for the great start. I knew we would have a pretty good team this year, so I made sure to pick up some games against some bigger schools (Cave City, Pocahontas, Mountain Home) along with the other schools that we normally play," he said. "I wanted these young men to play good competition now, so that they would be better prepared for senior high basketball in the next three years. Also, these guys played 80-plus games this summer through team camps and MAYB. They've been very dedicated overall and have continued to work hard to improve."

While beating all the teams on your schedule is impressive to begin with, the junior Bears' 2008 schedule has been loaded with a number of bigger schools.

"As far as beating bigger schools goes, it really doesn't matter to me, or the team, what classification a school is. If a team is good, then they are good," Cude said. "For instance, Izard County has played us closer than any other team (Mammoth Spring won by two points both times the teams played), and they are also a Class 1A school. Their only other loss is to a Class 2A school, even though they have also played 3A and 4A schools just like we have."

Where the future is concerned for his junior high squad, Cude sees good things happening if their work ethic stays at its present level.

"Hopefully, these young men will stay focused over the next few years when more and more distractions will be coming their way. I hope these young men will stay focused and take care of business in the classroom, in the hallway, in the gym and away from school as well."



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