West Junior High gears up for basketball season

By JESSICA KRAMPE

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian

A flood of the school’s colors filled the cafeteria for Blue and White Night at West Junior High School on Thursday, Nov. 11. Cheerleaders in their uniforms and basketball players in their gym shorts and tennis shoes mingled over a feast of hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, chips and cookies.

Everyone was invited to attend the tailgate beforehand to celebrate the beginning of the basketball season. Admission to the games cost 3 canned food items or $1 for students and $2 for adults. Proceeds will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Blue and White Night aims to support Viking basketball. Each team divided up into blue and white teams. The girls and boys switched off quarters so that each team played two, girls scrimmaging against girls and boys scrimmaging against boys. The 8th graders played at 6 p.m., and the 9th graders followed.

“It gets the kids to understand what games are about,” Warren Johnson, 9th grade boys’ coach. “We can make mistakes tonight, and that gives me time to reflect to them.”

Johnson said the night is a good way to see how each player fits in, and the scrimmage allows the players to gauge what the team expectations are in front of a crowd.

Tom Fischer coaches the 9th grade girls. He said Blue and White Night kicks off the season, and the players are able to experience a game situation before the season begins.

“They kind of get their feet wet before the actual thing,” he said.

Larry Sample coaches the 8th grade girls and said the night makes them a closer team. He said the fact that referees regulate the game makes it different than a typical practice.

What the coaches have to say:

9th grade boys: Johnson said his team is competitive and is strong in quickness and athletic ability.

“When we meet our opponents, we are going to be able to shuffle a lot of players in and out, wear the other team down,” he said. “We are looking to compete and not lose very many games at all.”

9th grade girls: Fischer said his team has been improving every day.

“We have pretty good size, so hopefully we will be able to rebound well,” he said. “Athletically we are pretty strong, if we can just develop the basketball skills to go along with the athleticism.”

“The main thing is to give our best effort,” he said. “

8th grade boys: Mike Cranford said once his team figures out the intensity and what is required of them, their progress will speed up.

“Our starting group is pretty athletic,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t get that, but these guys are.”

“My whole first five are really quality players that have a chance to play high school ball,” Cranford said.

8th grade girls: Sample said his team is catching onto the fundamentals of basketball.

“We have quickness, pretty good shooters, and we are aggressive,” he said. “We want to improve each and every game, just like practice,” he said. “And to win each and every game.”

First games:

The 8th grade teams kick off their season on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Both the girls’ and boys’ teams will play Saints Peter and Paul School at 6 p.m. at West Junior.

The 9th grade teams begin games the following week. The boys’ team will play at 6 p.m. at Jefferson City High School, 609 Union St. The girls’ team will play Jefferson City at 6 p.m. at West Junior.

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