Mathew Brock

Pilot Staff Writer

The Azalea Middle School 8th grade boys basketball team made it to the quarterfinals of their bracket last weekend in the State Middle School Championships tournament.

The Bruins ended second in the Jefferson Bracket after being defeated by Marshfield.

The record-breaking 234-team state tournament was organized into several pools where grades 5-8 competed. The Bruins were initially placed in Pool F.

The Bruins first faced off against Scappoose where they took a close 65-62 victory with Fabian Villa leading the team at 20 points.

Next up the Bruins faced Lake Oswego who they beat 77-71. Jake Beamen led the team this time around at 24 points.

With two wins the Bruins took first in Pool F before advancing into the Jefferson Bracket.

The Bruins faced off against Tillamook in the first round of the Jefferson Bracket, where they took a decisive win at 74-41. Beamen just barely took the top score at 24 points to Fabians’ 23.

The Bruins ended the tournament in the quarterfinals of the Jefferson Bracket against Marshfield, who managed to defeat the Bruins at a solid 64-45. Fabian ended up the top scorer again, this time at 20 points, with Beamen just behind at 19 points. Marshfield went on to win the 8th grade silver championship.

“This year went really well. It’s the first year we won our first three games. It was really exciting for the kids to get into the quarter finals of the bracket,” said Coach Jess Beaman. “This team has been going over there since sixth grade and this is the furthest they’ve made it.”

According to Beamen, this is the first year the team attended where the tournament was organized so that same size schools would be facing one another instead of larger or smaller schools in their area. While he values the experiences his players gained by facing a larger team, he ultimately felt this method made for better matchups.