Victorious in the Valley

These two teams both won tournament championships in Elmira over the weekend of March 11-12. (left) 3rd & 4th graders, back row from left: Elijah Zaita, Miles Decker, Tristan Hudson, Paxton Shervin, Brogan Manicke. Front row, from left: Nicholas Duman and Kingston (King) Riddle. Not pictured Landon Linton. (right) 5th & 6th graders, from left: Luke Lewis, Trendle (squirrel) Desantis, Torelan Desantis, Coach Adam Decker, Parker Turner, Cam Lyda, Ranger McMillan, Wyatt Fraze, Coach Charnae Decker. Not pictured Skip Lacouture, Coach Alaura Little. Courtesy photos

Two teams of area elementary and middle school kids take tournament titles in Elmira

March 19, 2023 — On March 11-12 two teams of area youth traveled to Elmira for tournaments to culminate their seasons.

The teams, one made of 3rd and 4th graders and the other 5th and 6th, both brought home tournament titles, appropriate finishes to their very successful seasons.

The teams were coached by Adam Decker, with assistance from Charnae Decker and Alaura Little.

The squad made up of 3rd and 4th graders went undefeated during the season, 15-0, playing most of those games in Eugene.

“I’m so proud of this team,” said Coach Adam. “We had so many families that put in time to drive to Eugene each weekend and compete against great competition.

The 3rd and 4th graders beat a team from Harrisburg 44-33 to earn their championship. According to the team’s coach, no one player was responsible for the team’s successes this season.

“Every bit of this season and tournament was a team effort,” said Coach Adam.

Decker highlighted that team effort by talking a little bit about each important player on his undefeated squad:

Brogan Manicke is the guy you want to go to battle with. He’s always on the floor giving it his all and won’t let a rebound go uncontested.

Elijah Zaita is so fast and so athletic. His speed and competitiveness helped us during times when we needed to be scrappy. He’s always on the floor giving it 110%.

Kingston Riddle is a talented ball player. We can count on King to pick the game tempo up and take it to the hoop when we need a bucket.

Landon Linton led our team in steals in the championship tournament. He’s like the Energizer Bunny for our team.

Miles Decker is our point guard and he plays with so much passion and joy. He led the team in assists this year, and he scored 31 in the championship game.

Nicholas Duman is a kid I wish I could clone. He works hard, encourages his team, and has a money outside shot.

Paxton Shervin is a work horse who gives his all every minute he’s on the court. We put him on some of the toughest ball handlers because he is one of our best defensive players.

Tristan Hudson is fearless. He plays with so much love for the sport that it’s contagious, and he can light it up from the perimeter.

“Every player scored, got rebounds and steals, and contributed in our championship tournament.,” said Decker of the younger of his two teams. “This is an incredible group of young men who play as a selfless unit.”

Decker’s 5th and 6th grade team also had a great season ending with a 71-47 win over Junction City at the tournament in Elmira.

“These guys had to battle through a lot of adversity this season,” said Coach Adam. “We were physically outsized every game, but we have lion sized hearts and a competitive fire that cannot be dimmed.”

Decker highlighted the play of each player on his 5th and 6th grade team:

Cam Lyda is the backbone of our team. He’s a leader on and off the court. Cam will always give it his all; every drill, every possession, every game. He leads our team in rebounds this season.

Luke Lewis is a fighter. He never quits. Never lets off the gas. He is full speed, and as competitive as they come. He works hard on both sides of the ball and steps up in pressure situations and delivers. In the championship game he had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 steals.

Parker Turner is always put on the toughest opponent player every single game. He never backs down. This cat is a warrior. Even with the toughest defensive assignment he still contributes with rebounds and points. He had 17 points and 9 rebounds in the championship game.

Ranger McMillan is a tank who works hard under the basket. He battles for rebounds and has grown into a solid basketball player and teammate this season. He had 6 rebounds in the championship game.

Skip LaCouture is our leading scorer of the season. You can flip through our scorebook and any game you’ll find Skip with 10 steals, 10 rebounds, and 20 points. That’s why they call him “Beast”. He cannot be stopped offensively or defensively. Wherever the ball is, that’s where Skippers will be. He might even hit a full court buzzer beater once in a while.

Torelan DeSantis is our point guard. He had 20 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds in our championship game. His ball handling and court vision are key to our team’s success.

Trendel DeSantis, they don’t call him “Squirrel“ for nothing. He averages 6 steals a game. He’s quick. He’s fearless. And he’s deadly from the perimeter. In the semifinal game he had 20 points and 6 steals.

Wyatt Fraze is like a Swiss Army knife. He is an unbelievable athlete who can step into any sport, any situation, and dominate. He’s diligent and coachable. He had 19 points and 5 rebounds in the championship game.

“I’m so proud of these young athletes and these families for putting in the time and dedication to compete on this team this season,” said Adam Decker after the tournament. “We traveled every weekend, and we played teams from all over the western part of Oregon.”

As fun as the season was for these young basketball players, it sounds like it was just as much or more fun for their coach.

“These teams were more than a joy to coach,” said Coach Adam. “I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to coach such an incredible group of hardworking, respectful, and resilient young men.”