“BZZZZZZZZ,” the sound of the buzzer blared, and South Plainfield’s 8th grade boys travel basketball team were declared champions of the JBA league. On March 10, 2018, the team faced Branchburg in the final matchup to reveal the season’s champion. Prior to this game, a rivalry between both teams had been born. In their 3 regular season meetings, Branchburg had beaten South Plainfield by 1 point twice and tied one other. These defeats had a lasting impact on the boys, and they knew they had to come back ready to play. Going into the championship game, they knew this would be the final time they would play together as a team. They started very strong, fought hard, dominated, and played every minute as a team. It was a glorious win for South Plainfield, and it will always be remembered by the each player on the team. They brought home the chip and Anthony Nigro was named MVP (most valuable player) in the end. Before getting excited, let’s talk about the background of this team.
This travel team of boys started out in fifth grade (2014-15) coached by Tyree Russell. By end of their first season, they made it to the finals, but sadly lost a hard fought battle against Springfield. Sixth and seventh grade seasons passed by, but there was no luck for the team to surpass the competition in the playoffs. But then came eighth grade, and the team was finally in its prime and ready to win a championship. Being a player of this team and playing basketball with the same boys for a long time has created an unbreakable bond for the boys. Not only have they learned the mechanics, but they have found a lasting place in a family. Without their undeniable chemistry, this team would not have found the success they had throughout their final season.
It has been a long journey that each of the players wish could last forever, but have a winning season is the best way to close this chapter before moving on to other teams in high school. The 2017-18 Championship team consisted of Jalen Russell, Jonte Robinson, Connor DeaKyne, Anthony Nigro, Tim Figueirido, Zaire Spears, Abzari Rashid, Gregorio Zambrana, Steven Twist, Eddie Spaulding and Justin Sogbo. March 10, 2018 will always be a historical day to remember for this team, their coach, their parents, their fans, and their hometown of South Plainfield.