Cinderella season continues for Englewood high

February 22, 2008 9:21:23 PM PST
Englewood High School basketball players are celebrating a night they'll likely never forget. They took their team to a level that hasn't been reached since the 1920's. Englewood high itself is closing at the end of the school year so this win is really special.

It's just a heart-warming, tremendous story. The team has a record this year of 24-2. with Friday night's win in the final home basketball game ever at Englewood High School.

The gym was filled to the rafters not only for that reason but also with fans eager to cheer on the best team this school has had in about 80 years.

It was a thrilling way to end the year at the Englewood High School. It will go down as a last-second win over a higher-ranked Hales Franciscan team.

The Cinderella season is continuing fans were aware that Friday's game was the last home basketball game ever for their school. But more importantly for them, the game offered a chance to continue their quest for a state championship in the final season before the school closes for good.

"I am so proud of the Eagles. They have come a long way. I've watched these guys since they were freshmen and they have blossomed a long way," said Marsha Redmon, an Englewood alumnus.

The Englewood basketball team crowded around a phone in the principal's office Friday afternoon getting a pep talk from none other than Shaquille O'Neal. "Y'all go out there and kill 'em," Shaq said.

It is a team made up of 12 seniors. There are no underclassmen because there are no underclassmen in the whole school. In fact, when the school year ends, Englewood High School will close for good. So the team is determined to go out with a bang.

"We're not just like a team. We're family. We go out there like it's our last game every game, and we play hard," said Nicholas Waddell, Englewood Basketball Player.

"We feel like a lot of teams get a lot more respect than we do. We feel like we don't get enough respect that we deserve. We just go out every night and prove, just keep winning," said Modteets Williams, Englewood Basketball Player.

The last time Englewood won a city championship was 1927. To say the least, it has been a long drought. But they could play for a championship this weekend. Coach Louis Adams says his players have had to overcome a lot of adversity in their homes and their community, so they are willing to work harder. He is hoping for a storybook ending.

"You know it's got to end. The kids have to go forward. You want to see the kids progress in college," Coach Adams said.

Most of the players will continue their basketball careers in college. All of them plan to go to college, an amazing accomplishment for a school being closed because of poor academics. Englewood's principal says it's a tribute to the players and their coach.

"He has really been a father figure to the boys," said Englewood Principal Debra Kizer.

The game Friday night was the regional championship in the state tournament. They now go on to the sectionals and possibly down state. But Saturday they play in the semifinals of the city championship. So it is a very busy weekend, has an emotional one.