They may not be high schoolers yet, but the Ramona Middle School Vikings boys’ and girls’ 8th grade teams are both undefeated at 2-0 in early season play, and starting to attract attention around town.
Cory Hanson, a Ramona school counselor, directs the 8th grade boys team’ in his rookie campaign. It was only about a decade ago that Hanson was a member of the Ramona squad himself.
“The strength of our team at this point is the way we run our offense,” said Hanson, who is assisted by Mrs. Danielle Soto.
The shooting has yet to come around, however. Against Lone Hill, his Vikings missed a bucketful of four-footers and layups before escaping with a three-point victory. “We probably should have beaten them by 20,” Hanson said. “That’s why you see them running right now. I figure if we can’t outshoot the other team, we’ll outhustle them.”
Making Hanson’s first year of coaching a little easier is a dedicated and hard-working 17-man squad. Because the bench runs deep, there’s spirited competition for playing time.
Some early standouts include Brendan Smith, Joe Quire and Dane Holler. “Brendan is real intense and all hustle. He can shoot, he can board and he can take it to the hole,” Hanson said.
“Joe is probably the best hustler on the team, and he is working hard to improve his shot.
“As for Dane, he’s our biggest guy, and has a nice outside shot to go with his size.”
Hanson runs a motion offense and a 2-3 front on defense, plus some man-to-man. The team also features a good full-court press. “There’s a lot of improvement ahead of us, but everybody’s working hard and pushing one another in practice,” Hanson added.
Coach Parra is enjoying his 13th campaign for Ramona, and the number has come up lucky for the physical education teacher.
“This is the most athletic team we’ve ever had,” Parra said. “It’s a good group of girls.
Parra carries a squad of 16 girls. Among his early standouts are Dominique Wheatley, Ariana Abo and Samantha Naanouh.
Wheatley in the young season has been a scoring machine. Parra said it’s not unusual for her to score 30 points in two quarters of play. Abo has proven herself to be a good ball handler and Naanouh gives the Viking a strong inside presence from her forward position.
As for embarking on his 13th season, Parra said, “I like what I’m doing. I’m a phys-ed teacher. I should be out here.”
From the team’s early success, it would appear his team would agree.