Wed, July 17

Parade of champions<br><i>Clarkdale-Jerome School honors state hoops successes</i>

Staff photo by Eric Lusk

MY PRECIOUS: Briana Young (left), Nicole Webb and Natascha Wathogoma - a trio of all-state selections from Clarkdale-Jerome - treasure the second-place hardware won by the girls team.

The school’s boys hoops team won the recent Arizona Small Schools Junior High championship. The girls team took second place.

It was the fifth time Clarkdale-Jerome’s boys have won state, adding to their titles in 1980, 1988, 1991 and 1992. Vince Randall has been the Rams’ coach for each of the five championships.

The girls, coached by Erie Randall and Linda Chavez, had never reached the title game before this season. Dilcon, a feeder school for 3A Winslow at the high school level, won the girls trophy in a nail-biter.

In celebration of their state tournament feats, the Town of Clarkdale declared Friday to be "Clarkdale-Jerome School Day," and the school organized an afternoon parade to the town park. School and town officials recognized both teams with a proclamation and remarks.

Students decorated themselves in green and yellow, the school colors. Some painted their faces, and most donned shiny green and gold stands of beads.

Clarkdale-Jerome has hosted the small schools tournament, which features the top teams from rural conferences around the state, for the past 17 years.

The Ram boys ended up 22-2 this season, losing only to Page by 4 points in overtime and to Cottonwood by 2 points. Eighth-grader Harold Mitchell earned state tournament MVP honors.

"Our goal was just to get into the state playoffs, and we just got better and better," Vince Randall said. "We had the right chemistry with the right talent and a lot of good hard work."

The team benefited from a transfer student from Nevada named Mike Mendez, coach Randall said. "That was the right ingredient that took us up to that next level," he said.