THE MELROSE 8th grade boys’ basketball team recently captured their first Cape Ann Div. 2 title, going 4-0 in the double elimination tournament. (courtesy photo)

MELROSE—The Melrose 8th grade boys’ basketball team capped off another successful season capturing their first Cape Ann Div. 2 Championship going 4-0 in the double elimination tournament. After going undefeated in Division 3 as 7th graders and losing by a heartbreaking 2 points in the Division 2 championship to Manchester Essex, this year as 8th graders they had one goal in mind…finish the job. This is the first Melrose middle school championship in almost 10 years and almost 90 minutes later the 6th grade boys joined them as champions.

Moving up to Div. 2 to start the season, the 8th graders had a much more difficult regular season with no scheduled games vs. Div. 3 opponents, it was an all Div. 2 and Div. 1 schedule for Melrose. The season got off to a difficult start going 0-4 in league play and sitting at the bottom of a 10-team league. They didn’t lose their confidence though as they were winning non-league games against tough opponents Stoneham, Wakefield, Ipswich, and Burlington to name a few.

Team above any player and hard work have been the key tenets set forth by the coaches since day one in 7th grade. As the season wore on the Team started coming together more and more. They closed out the regular season going 4-2 and earned a #4 seed in an 8-team tournament. Game 1 was against #5 seed Danvers who they beat by 31 points the week prior. Danvers came to play in this game, and it was a low scoring tight battle the whole way through. Down 9 with only 2 minutes to play Melrose never gave up and won it 41-40 on a last second buzzer beater to avoid going straight to the dreaded losers bracket. After that it was all Melrose the rest of the way. They avenged an early season blowout loss to # 1 seed Peabody beating them in the second round 49-30. #7 Gloucester was up next in round three who they lost a tight one to two weeks earlier and that was a 58-37 Melrose victory. Gloucester beat Peabody to set up a rematch in the championship and Melrose pulled away at the end to win the title 63-52.

Team concept and hard work got them through the season and the Melrose Hard Helmet award went to the entire team for the way they stuck together and turned an average season into a championship send off to high school.

The boys recently finished first in their in group at the 2023 NE Championships in Foxboro this past weekend, losing to eventual champion Martha’s Vineyard in the semi-finals. It was a great season and future is bright for this group as they head into nigh school next year.