By Ray Hamill — Ferndale basketball appears to be in pretty good hands.
In addition to the high school’s North Coast Section championship this past season, the Cream City’s eighth-graders continue to compete at a high level, winning a second consecutive A1 championship at the recent Crescent City Jaycees tournament.
It was their third tournament title of the season, an impressive haul for a team that wasn’t expected to do so well, with Aaiden Burris the lone holdover from last year’s successful team.
“These guys weren’t expected to win, especially in the championship games,” head coach Rex Rigney said. “Winning as the underdog was cool.”
The coaches have built a mini dynasty of sorts over the past couple of years, winning six tournaments in that time, with an impressive two-year record of 37-4, including a 16-3 mark this season.
Defending their Jaycees title was particularly gratifying for the coach and the players.
“To win the Jaycees once is hard, but to win it twice in a row is pretty cool,” Rigney said. “We played our best three games of the year.”
Not only did the Mustangs place first in the A1 Division at the recent Jaycees tournament, but they also won the Weaverville tournament, as well as their own Ferndale tournament.
In the championship game of their own tournament, the Mustangs defeated AA Fortuna Middle School by just one point.
Burris led the way on this year’s team, along with Thomas Fergison and Teejay Woods.
The sharp-shooting Burris, who was named MVP in he A1 bracket at Crescent City, was a team captain and averaged more than 15 points a game, while Fergison was also a team captain and also averaged more than 15 points.
Fergison, the starting point guard, was one of the team’s top defenders, while Woods led the team in rebounds.
Both of them were named all-tourney along with Burris at Crescent City.
David Leonardo and Trent Titus rounded out the starting five.
The versatile Leonardo played a number of roles well for the Mustangs, while Titus was known for his stellar defense.
Wes Renner, Levi Dixon, Isaak Kasso and Ayden Christensen all provided depth off the bench.
The team’s two recent tournament championships in Crescent City come after a 15-year dry spell for the program there.
It also ended up costing the coach after he promised his players at the start of the season that if they won the Crescent City tournament he would take them out for a stake dinner at Ivanhoe’s in Ferndale.
It was second straight year he has had to fulfill that promise.