The Beasts have been unleashed for 2020.
Or at least some of them have.
The local basketball club, which expects to feature as many as 14 travel teams this year, got an early start to the season for some of the younger girls’ teams last week at the Winter Classic in Rocklin.
And it was an impressive start for the Humboldt County club.
Two rosters of seventh-grade girls made the trip along with the eighth-grade and sixth-grade girls teams.
Three of the four reached the championship game in their bracket, with the sixth-graders and eighth-graders each finishing a perfect 4-0.
The eighth-graders in particular looked impressive early in the season, with a core group of players who have been playing together all five years Team Beasts has been in existence.
“That eighth-grade team is pretty good,” club founder Eddy Vainuku said. “I think we’re kind of hitting our stride. Our girls are not intimidated.”
In the championship game, the eighth-graders posted a comfortable win over the Team Beasts seventh-grade Elite team, which was bumped up a bracket for the weekend.
The club’s seventh-grade Gold team placed fourth in its bracket, but got some good experience at the tournament, while the local sixth-graders beat Team Impact out of Santa Rosa for the championship.
The local middle school girls were able to get a jump start on the season after their local school season ended in mid-December, while the local middle school boys are still playing with their schools through February.
According to Vainuku, Team Beasts aggressively seeks out the more competitive travel team tournaments to better prepare their players for tougher competition down the road.
And it’s a strategy that appears to be paying dividends for the local club, which has several players making an immediate impact at the varsity level in high school this winter, including St. Bernard’s Saulele Tanuvasa, Eureka’s Claire Maples and McKinleyville’s Trinity Preston.
Team Beasts’ season runs through July, with the boys and older girls beginning play in March.