St. Theresa’s seventh-grade basketball team recently made waves as they went undefeated through the regular season and took home the Catholic Youth Athletic Association (CYAA) Championship.
The St. Theresa Broncos start practice at the beginning of November, with games starting in the middle of that month and going through the end of January. They played 12 games this season, including the CYAA playoffs.
“We have a good amount of interest in basketball at St. Theresa,” Coach Jason Elrod said. “Most of the boys in seventh grade participate. Because of that, we split the boys into two teams of seven and six for the regular season, so they all get plenty of playing time.”
The coaches combined both teams for the playoffs, so 13 players participated in the CYAA games. Elrod said the strength of the team is defined by their basketball IQ.
“More than half of the boys play for the Phoenix Runnin’ Rebels club program in Arcadia. They are a fun group to watch play, and they play at a very advanced level for their age,” he said.
The CYAA Championship games took place in late January at St. Francis in Phoenix. The Broncos took on a “very tough St. Thomas team,” according to Elrod, who explained that most Catholic schools in the Valley were in attendance.
“We were the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs, and we beat St. Jerome, St. Vincent, All Saints and St. Thomas twice,” he said. “Our team was laser focused all season. I was proud of the way they stayed focused throughout the playoffs. Being the No. 1 seed, we got everyone’s best every night.”
Teammate Bentley Elrod has been playing basketball since he was four years old and said his strong will to win helps him during gameplay.
“We were all locked in and didn’t want to let each other down,” Bentley said. “After the championship, we were introduced in front of the whole school at the closing prayer ceremony.”
Seventh-grader Luke Polachek said his favorite part of winning was knowing there would be a banner hung up, so he could remember the accomplishment with his friends and teammates.
“I stay motivated by having fun and always wanting to get better,” Luke said. “When the championship was over, we told each other good work and passed around the trophy that we brought back to St. Theresa.”
The team’s motto, which helps keep them motivated on and off the court, is “the job’s not done.”
“We really wanted to finish undefeated. We were able to do that in football this season and were focused on doing it again for basketball,” Elrod said.