Sampson Middle School’s boys basketball team has mirrored seasons completed for the past two years, ending with a 13-0 record and continuing a winning streak that began in 2011.
They did that last Monday when they played their final game of the season against Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School, getting the final W of the year with a 44-25 win.
The victory gives the young Dark Horses a 37-game winning streak that now dates back three years.
It’s a humbling place to be, according to the team’s head coach, Ron Davis, who praised his young boys for their tenacity on the court and their willingness to learn not just basketball skills but “life lessons’ along the way.
On the court, Davis said last week, it’s been about defense, a strong one that has left their opponents struggling to catch up.
“It’s all about our D,” Davis stressed. “We have a defense first mentality. It’s what we’ve had all year and it’s what helped us win games. Team defense is the way we play.”
That defense has allowed the young Horses to get out and run, with fast breaks that usually end in buckets.
“We love to run, hustle out there, breaking up plays and then, on offense, creating them. It’s a team concept we’ve used from the beginning with this group of kids and it has paid off for us.”
That concept is one they will continue to hone as they move from middle school to the junior varsity and varsity Dark Horse teams, a detailed and fully planned manner of coaching that grows players as they move through the athletic ranks.
“This is a program. It starts with us in the middle school,” Davis said. “We run the same program as at the high school so the transition is smooth and players know what is going on.”
And it has paid off. The middle school teams that have advanced are now on the Dark Horse team that is having a stellar year, and that’s just as it should be, Davis acknowledges.
“It’s what we want to do; it’s the program approach, growing our players and helping them to mature.”
Davis will lose eight eighth-graders to Clinton High this year, but he’ll be returning seven. Couple that with what the coach calls a “good group of sixth-graders on their way up” and he expects Sampson Middle to have another good season in the fall.
As for this year’s conference champion Horses, Davis has nothing but praise.
“This group of kids is one of the best, if not the best, teams I’ve ever had the privilege to coach. They have been willing to learn, not just basketball but life lessons. They’ve been a pleasure to coach and get to know. They have learned a lot and I expect good things from them in the future.
“I truly hope they will take some of what they’ve learned here with them to the high school and into their lives as adults.”