On January 23rd, the Montford Middle School boys basketball team opened their regular season by winning big at home against Ft. Braden (67-6). Despite having just two weeks to practice and gain team chemistry, the post game comments from Montford players and coaches revolved around teamwork.
According to Finn Newsome (#34), the toughest part of practice is running, but Newsome added, “Running in practice as a team teaches us that we are family.” When asked what he’s learned so far this season, Newsome said, “It’s better to work as a team rather than a one-man-unit.” Although his older brother taught him how to play, Newsome’s favorite player is Shaq.
After playing in his first middle school basketball game, Bretten Gilyard (#14) said he liked everything about the night’s game, adding, “It’s pretty fun.” When asked what he’s learned from his head coach, Gilyard said, “First of all Coach T has taught me how to be a man, get good grades in the classroom, and techniques on defense and offense.” Gilyard’s favorite NBA player is James Hardin because of the way he handles the ball and sets up his shots. Gilyard said, “My personal goals for the season are to score, help my teammates play better, and just win.”
When asked about his favorite part of the game, Major Hartman (#33) said he enjoyed working together so the team can get stronger for future games. Hartman said his “favorite part of basketball is getting to know teammates and learning to trust one another.” Hartman’s favorite player is Steph Curry because he watches him a lot on TV and plays as Curry on his video games.
Reflecting the sentiments of his players, Coach Thompson said he loves to coach because he loves to teach. Coach Thompson claims basketball legend, John Wooden, as one of his own inspirations for becoming a coach, saying of Wooden, “He was a teacher before he was a coach.” Coach Thompson’s biggest surprise about this year’s team is the way they come together on the court and hustle together. Thompson thinks the biggest challenge of middle school basketball is the short season, saying, “It’s tough getting everyone to play together.”
Ryan Williams, one of the newest coaches for Montford, said he got inspired to be a coach by the way his dad coached him. When asked what makes these mustangs so special, Coach Williams said, “The personalities: each kid has a different game, is special to this team, and brings a different kind of energy to the game.” Coach Williams said he enjoys running around at practice with the kids, but he said, “It’s all about making the boys better.”
With a foundation of coaching, teamwork, and fun, this Montford Mustangs team is a sure contender for Tallahassee’s city championship.