Last spring, the 12 members of the Crestwood Middle School boys basketball team did something that all previous boys basketball teams from Crestwood have never done in the history of the school: win the Palm Beach County middle school boys basketball championship.
The big win took place on Tuesday, April 11 when the Crestwood Eagles defeated Eagles Landing Middle School, 46-43.
All 12 members of the team, 11 of whom graduated from Crestwood back in May, were Ja’Quan Johnson, Jeremiah Neath, Xavier Police, Michael Chambers, David Alexis, Guervensly Pierre, Oriean Eells, Ethan Desarmes, Chris Jones, Treven Tipton, Jordan Philistin and Ashton Fountain. Their head coach was Tim Hegarty. The only seventh grader on the team was Fountain, who is now in the eighth grade at Crestwood Middle School.
While the championship victory took place last spring, the official celebration didn’t take place until Saturday, Sept. 30. On that day, Hegarty and the leadership of the school honored each member of that championship team with a commemorative ring. All 12 members of the team were there to receive their championship rings.
In addition to the presentation of the rings, the players and their head coach enjoyed a celebration luncheon.
“We served baked chicken, barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, yellow rice, baked beans, deviled eggs and a tossed salad,” Crestwood Middle School Athletic Director Marque Drummond said.
The championship rings and the celebration lunch were a much-deserved reward for a job well done, Crestwood Middle School Principal Dr. Stephanie Nance said.
“While I’m very excited about the accomplishments of our basketball team, I am proud to say that everybody on the team was a true student-athlete who understood the primary importance of academics,” Nance said. “I am also proud of our athletic director, Mr. Drummond, who has assembled a cadre of coaches who understand the importance of academic achievement. Our basketball players showcased resiliency, teamwork and focus. Here at Crestwood, we have great students, great athletes, great coaches and great parents. I am very proud of all of them.”
Hegarty and the 12 players also heard a few words of wisdom from one of the area’s longtime top basketball coaches.
“Our guest speaker was coach Lorenzo Hands, the former head coach of Palm Beach Lakes High School,” Drummond said. “He spoke on three points to success from middle school and the message was powerful and well received.”
Three of Crestwood’s starting five this past spring — Johnson, Police and Chambers — were rewarded for their season-long play by being named as All-Star/All-County selections. Chambers was the MVP of the championship game, based on the 16 points he scored in the finale.
Looking back, Hegarty said he will always have fond memories of his 2023 basketball team at Crestwood Middle School.
“This was my most rewarding season ever as a coach,” Hegarty said. “All our players had great attitudes. We had a talented team, but all 12 players bonded very well together. There were no egos on the team, and all the players truly enjoyed hanging out together off the court. We had a close-knit group of players. They were very supportive of one another during games and in practice.”
If Crestwood manages to repeat as county champions again next spring, Crestwood will do so with a new roster and a new head coach, since Hegarty has taken his basketball coaching talents and algebra-teaching skills to Conniston Middle School in West Palm Beach.