BY KEVIN CUSHINGBERRY JR., EDITOR IN CHIEF
It a great journey for the Eastfield Harvesters this season. They started off with a dream, worked hard and gave everything they had to make that dream come true.
Last off-season, the Harvesters spent endless days in the gym shooting and lifting weights together. They even hung out away from school, playing PlayStation 3 and during their “kickbacks.” That’s when the whispers started: “Think we could make it to New York?”
The summer workouts translated into success on the court. The Harvesters won 26 of their first 28 games, including a stretch of 17 consecutive wins from Dec. 5 to Feb. 13 when all five starters averaged double figures in scoring. Their willingness to trade individual accolades for wins resulted in the most successful season at Eastfield since 1997.
Little things made the difference this season. Things like LaDaniel Marshall, who won a state championship at West Oso in Corpus Christi, averaging only five minutes per game but not complaining, knowing his time would come.
There were no divas and no drama, just hoopers.
The team won its first nine games in conference play and claimed the Metro Athletic Conference championship for the second time under coach Anthony Fletcher.
However, there were challenges: After clinching the No. 1 seed in the Region V tournament, the Harvesters had their streak snapped by Richland in the last game of the regular season. They lost again five days later against Mountain View in the second round of the region tournament, but had a shot at a championship rematch because of their regular-season title.
With the season on the line, Eastfield was able to avenge the Mountain View loss and clinch a berth in the national championship tournament. The obstacles the team was able to overcome with its backs against the wall would prove to be valuable experience in New York.
In the first round of the Elite Eight, Mike Love scored a season-high 31 points, 20 over his average. It’s not that Love wasn’t capable of posting high numbers throughout the season. He was just playing his role. And he wasn’t alone.
It seemed like Brock Hunter came up big in every meaningful moment. When the Harvesters needed a play, he made it happen. Semar Farris, Andrew Maxie and sixth-man Demarcus Metcalf were often the beneficiaries of Hunter’s team-first mentality, which had a trickle-down effect.
Teamwork led Eastfield to New York. Even though they came up short, they left feeling like they were the best team in the country. They didn’t win the title, but these players should be remembered as arguably the best to put on Eastfield uniforms.