It all came down to the last quarter of the season, but Kenilworth Junior High School’s talented eighth-grade boys basketball team completed an almost dream season with a share of the North Valley League championship.
The Kolts had to share the title with nemesis Herbert Slater from Santa Rosa, but that was a minor annoyance considering that the Kolts beat Slater in the final game of the season to earn their right to be called champions.
The win was especially satisfying considering Kenilworth had lost to the Santa Rosa team twice as seventh-graders and the first time around the league schedule by two points as eighth-graders.
The Kolts ended up meeting Herbert Slater in the final game of the season and found themselves in a battle that was every bit as thrilling as the first game, but fortunately for Kenilworth with a different outcome.
The game was tied at 31-31 at the end of the first half, but at the end of the third quarter things looked bleak for Kenilworth. The Kolts scored just four points in the third stanza and trailed, 43-35, with only one quarter left in their season.
Kenilworth met the challenge, holding Herbert Slater to only four points in the fourth period. Tory Cain hit four free throws and Logan Bailey canned a big 3-pointer to help Kenilworth score 15 in the period, and then hold on to complete an exceptional season and clinch a share of the championship.
Kenilworth connected on six 3-point shots in the game from four different shooters.
According to coaches Chris Guttendorf and Spencer Finkbohner, the championship season didn’t just happen.
“They played well together,” said Guttendorf. “Most of them have been playing on the same team since they were in CYO. They also play hard every game.”
“The biggest thing is that they competed,” added Finkbohner. “They competed not only in games, but against one another in practice.”
“They are very skilled, but they are also one of most competitive teams I have ever coached,” agreed Guttendorf. “I couldn’t have asked anything more from them.”
From the first quarter of the first game to the exciting final quarter of the last game, the Kolts played full speed.
“We never walked the ball up court,” said Guttendorf. “We always ran.”
The coaches noted that while every player contributed, leadership came from Joe Brown, Cain and silent leader Bailey.
With Bailey, Cain, Joe Brown and Brice Cox, the Kolts had enough depth at the guard positions to keep up their up-tempo pace for an entire game.
Led by Colin Patchet and Brandon Allred, the front-line players were not overly big, but they were tough and knowledgeable.
Contributing to the front court were Antonio Bernardini, Justin Charter, Mikey Cavallero, Mason Cox, Sam Basich, Caden Cramer, Anthony Osorio and Shane Runyeon.
One other thing about the Kolt eighth-graders.
“They were a lot of fun,” said Finkbohner.