Most members of the Petaluma Junior High School basketball team will never know what it feels like to lose a junior high school game. In two years, first as seventh graders and this year as eighth graders, they never lost a game.
As eighth-graders they won 14 straight games and won their league championship. This after they had won 18 straight and the league championship as seventh graders.
This year's team averaged 43.5 points per game and allowed just 28.9 per contest.
The team was not built around any star or stars. Everyone contributed. The Bantams had a different leading scorer in nine of their 14 games and at least nine different players scored in half their games.
As talented in the classroom as they were on the court, all 12 players on the Petaluma team have at least a 3.0 grade point average.
The Bantams also participated in a program called "Coaching Boys into Men," sponsored by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services that required each player to sign a pledge that they would strive to be positive role models for other students and take a stand against violence, abuse and harassment.
"We had a depth of talent, with good size and good guards," noted eighth-grade coach Zach Dee. "In every game, we had one or two guys who were mismatched against the other team.
"Our team defense was strong. We were always in a position to provide good help. Our big focus on offense was moving the ball until we got a good shot," he noted.
"The players came to Jeff (seventh-grade coach Jeff Erbst) with advanced skills, and he took them to the next step. They all have very high basketball IQs."
Dee pointed out that most of the players are not just basketball athletes. "They play more than one sport," he said. "We even had a competitive speed skater. They are a quality group of young men."
Members of the team are Jack Anderson, Hayden Dennis, Whittaker Ellis, Aidan Eustace, Devin Gottschall, Levi Hinkle, Danny Marzo, Joe O'Hagen, Brendan O'Neill, Mack Roesner, Bradley Smith and Justin Wolbert.