Friday, October 23, 2015

MISD Basketball Team Looks to Continue Two-Year Undefeated Streak

Coach Alex Howard holding a trophy with his 2014-15 team
after being named tournament champions.
T.A. Howard Middle School basketball coach Alex Howard has been coaching for 20 years; but when he first came to Mansfield ISD three years ago, he said he knew there was something special about the group of boys who would later make up his eighth grade team.

“Those guys were really good and competitive,” said Howard. “They had natural talent, but they also had a relentless work ethic. They were always willing to get better, and you don’t see that all the time. Everyone who saw them play noticed it too.”

The team went undefeated as seventh graders in the 2013-14 school year, and continued to be unstoppable as eighth graders the following year. The boys dominated in all in-district games, out-of-district games, and tournaments. Howard said his eighth graders never shied away from tough teams all over the metroplex.

“Parents, referees, workers—people from everywhere we played would always stop and ask how I was able to get all of those highly skilled players on one team,” Howard continued. “It was a sight to see, and all of them were MISD-bred.”

Eighth graders Timi Efunboade and Jaedaun Slack after
a day of drills in basketball class.
With that type of notoriety, there’s a lot of pressure on T.A. Howard’s new eighth grade basketball team to carry on the tradition this season, but Jaedaun Slack says he’s up for the challenge.

“I want to keep it going,” said Slack, who looked up to the undefeated team as a seventh grader. “It’ll take hard work and teamwork, but I think we can do it.”

Timi Efunboade, who is also ready for a flawless season, said he thinks the 2015-16 team can do it again if they learn to cooperate on and off the court.

“On the court, last year’s team played every game with all their hearts like it was their last. Off the court, they were really good friends. I want to do an even better job of that this year,” said Efunboade.

The Howard Knights will get a chance to carry on that legacy in the coming weeks. Tryouts are Nov. 9-11, and the first game is Nov. 19.