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March 24, 2023

Britton Middle School seventh-grade boys basketball team excels in ultra-tough East Side Athletic League

The Britton Middle School seventh-grade boys basketball team might not have gotten the storybook ending it wanted, but that did little to negate the overall scope of a fantastic season. 

The Bobcats went 11-1 in the recently completed winter season, culminating in a 54-52 loss to Chaboya in the East Side Athletic League A Division championship game on Feb. 2 at Morrill Middle School in San Jose. 

Britton went a perfect 7-0 to win the ESAL South Division before beating Piedmont 47-20 and Quimby 41-35, respectively, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, in the playoffs. The next day, it took on the top-seed team from the ESAL North Division, Chaboya, which went a perfect 8-0 in division play. 

The matchup was as good as advertised, with Britton making a late run and eventually falling short to a very tough Chaboya squad. 

“After such a great season, it was tough to lose that last game,” Bobcats coach Dave Clink said. “It was kind of hard to end the season that way, but it was such a successful season on and off the court with a really special group of kids. If anyone told me before the season we would go 11-1, I would sign up for that every year. It was a great team effort and I’m extremely proud of the effort the boys gave.”

The roster includes Jacob Rose, Rajveer Saini, Jace Asuncion, James Hannigan, Liam Bettencourt, Evan Carmichael, Sebastian Bazar, Joey Maggi, Lochlan Ezzell, Shaan Gill, Osvaldo Garcia, Caleb Elliott, Michael Mendoza and Noah Omron. 

Clink knew this season had the potential to be a special one as the team returned a half-dozen sixth graders off last year’s team (Britton combines sixth- and seventh graders for boys basketball). He said Maggi, an athletic wing, was the best player in the South Division and ranks right up there with any of the top talents from the North Division.

“Joey is extremely coachable, works hard year-round and his ability to get and finish at the basket was pretty unmatched of any kid I saw in the league this season,” Clink said. “Just a tremendous offensive player, aggressive on defense and a strong rebounder. There’s nothing on the court the kid can’t do.”

Clink praised Ezzell for his perseverance and determination a year after Ezzell didn’t even make the team. All Ezzell did was make dramatic improvement to become one of the leading scorers on the squad. A tremendous shooter and defender, Ezzell hit some timely shots against Chaboya to keep Britton within striking distance and not letting the game get away. 

“He hit a lot of big shots in that championship game to keep us close,” Clink said. “Without his shooting, it wouldn’t have been close. Lochlan is a kid who did not make the team last year but practiced with us all last season. He came to me after tryouts [last year] and said, ‘Coach, I know I didn’t make the team, but can I come to practice?’ I said, ‘Are you going to show up and work hard?’ He said yes and came back and returned as one of our star players. The work ethic he showed says a lot about his character and how important it was for him to be a part of this team.”

Gill is the team’s 6-foot-2 center who has the ability to go inside-outside, defends well and is lauded for his positive attitude and team-first mentality. 

“Shaan is amazing and one of those special kids to have on your team,” Clink said. “That kid will do anything for you at any point to help the team win. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him. His dad is 6-7, 6-8, and Shaan is only going to grow some more. He’s an amazing young man and has been so important to our success and has so much potential to be an amazing player going forward.”

Clink said he was just as if not more proud of the kids’ achievements in the classroom, highlighting the team’s 3.6 GPA. 

“It says a lot about the character of these kids and their work and effort on and off the court,” he said. “It would’ve been nice to win a championship, but their success off the court goes beyond any single game they’ll ever play.”

Clink, who owns his own local real estate business, has a special connection with Britton. While the 49-year-old just completed his fourth season as the seventh-grade boys basketball coach, Clink’s time at the school goes back 30-plus years. 

He played on Britton’s freshmen team in 1988, back when the school still served ninth graders. In the last four years, Clink has been able to coach his two sons at Britton, first Evan in 2019-2020 and last year with Logan. 

“Being able to coach my kids here is special and it makes it extra special since I played here as a kid,” Clink said. 

Another interesting fact: Clink works alongside Britton’s eighth-grade boys coach Jim Green, who coached Clink when he played at Britton and then at Live Oak High. Green is a well known and highly respected figure in the community.

Emanuel Lee
Emanuel Lee is the sports editor of the Los Gatan, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. An American High and University of Kentucky alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Gavilan College, various youth sports in south Santa Clara/San Benito counties and pro sports on occasion. Two decades of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. With the Weeklys/NewSVMedia group since 2013. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40 (7:24 mile pace), counts himself as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza. Coaches, athletic directors and parents are encouraged to report scores to [email protected]

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