The Helper Junior High boys basketball team celebrates shortly after defeating rival Mont Harmon 61-52 for the CVAA tournament championship on Wednesday night. Each player and coach got a chance to enjoy the moment by cutting down the net, taking a momento to remember the win.
There's nothing like winning a tournament championship after a successful season. Especially when it comes at the expense of your rival school on their home court.
After winning the regular season title in the Castle Valley Athletic Association, the Helper Junior High boys basketball team wanted to make it two for two by winning the tournament championship. In a hard fought game between Mont Harmon Junior High and HJH, Helper pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 61-52 victory in the title game.
Mont Harmon led at halftime 28-24 before Helper made a run in the third quarter to take the lead 38-37 going into the fourth quarter.
Helper's Jackie Byrge, an eighth grader, jump started a run hitting a number of three's from the left corner helping the Rams extend a lead that Mont Harmon would never recover from.
"There's nothing better than this," said HJH coach Jack Byrge of beating their rival for a championship.
"We worked really hard all season long for this," he said.
Despite being down for most of the first half and into the third quarter, the Rams remained calm waiting for an opportunity to seize control of the game.
"It's what we do," Byrge said of the team taking control late in the game. "Playing in our system, it's hard to beat us. The boys know how to play down the stretch in games."
After the game, Helper players and coaches climbed a ladder for the celebratory cutting down of the net. As each player and coach cut a piece of the net, it was the culmination of a 7-1 finish, including a conference and tournament championship.
Add to that, a season sweep of rival Mont Harmon, and things feel really good for the players and coaches of Helper.
"Going undefeated was our goal heading into the season," Byrge said. Helper's only loss came against San Rafael earlier this season. But they were able to gain a measure of revenge by defeating San Rafael to advance to the championship game on Wednesday night.
The title is the Rams' second in two years, Byrge said, which is a reflection of the hard work by the players and coaches.