The third and fourth grade girls Redwood City All Star team, whose players hail from Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Redwood City, recently won the National Junior Basketball (NJB) championship in a tournament held in Orange County the weekend of April 14 and 15.
Resembling the small-town Indiana high school basketball team made famous by the movie "Hoosiers," the young low-seeded underdog Redwood All Stars won its four heart-stopping games by a total of seven points. It defeated the taller, bigger and older teams from Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County.
In the thrilling final game, Redwood City came back from an eight-point deficit in the fifth and final period of regulation to tie Bakersfield with 20 seconds remaining and send the game into overtime. The Redwood City All Stars team, coached by Bill Miller and Todd Hemm, completed its storybook comeback by winning the game by a score of 30-28 in the single overtime period.
The ecstatic girls and even more exuberant and proud coaches and parents returned to their Bay Area homes with a sparkling new two-foot high trophy and memories to last a lifetime.
Team members are Olivia Athens, Mackenzie Duffner, Riley Hemm, Lauren Keelan, Jessica Koenig, Elise Merten, Anna Miller, Ally Ostrow, Gaby Rivas, and Josie Rouser.
The team was one of 10 national teams, including two from Silicon Valley, that were invited to compete for the championship.
The Redwood City team had placed second in the Silicon Valley championship playoffs, won by the Foothill All Stars, which also competed in the Orange County tournament.
Unlike most of its competitors, made up of mostly fourth-grade girls, the Redwood City All Stars team had only six fourth-graders, three third-graders and one second-grader.