DURHAM, N.C.–On Thursday, the Woodcroft basketball upperclassmen league season will culminate in a championship game, held at 8:00 pm in the gym of Githens Middle School.
The teams fighting for a spot in Durham sports lore include Team Stanley, nicknamed the “Storm Troopers,” and Team Crowley. Both teams had an impressive run in the regular season, as Team Crowley finished their season winning five of their final six. However, the Storm Troopers completed an undefeated season and have beaten Team Crowley each of the three times they met this season.
Chris Holliday of Team Crowley truly believes it’s a “David versus Goliath situation” and is motivated by his team’s underdog status. “We’re David. We show up when it really matters,” Holliday remarked. Holliday’s teammate Jim Stanfield also believes in his team will win despite the odds, “I feel good about our chances–no other team has the heart that we do.”
Rashaun Burt of Team Crowley is considering a championship loss next to impossible and believes Team Stanley will indeed fall. “I’m 100% confident we’ll win the game. Team Stanley sucks, always has and always will.”
However, Team Stanley is shrugging off any possibility that their undefeated season will end Thursday. “Confidence is a gross understatement for how I’m feeling about Thursday night. Storm Troopers by 90,” Sean Michaels boasted. Joey Stanley agrees with Sean, stating that he’s “1000% confident,” citing the fact that his team has beaten Team Crowley by double digits on two occasions as evidence. “Team Orange [Crowley] is turning into orange juice on Thursday,” Joey proclaimed. Stanley’s teammate Mercer Stanfield, playing opposite his twin brother Jim in Thursday’s contest, pointed to his team’s undefeated season as firm evidence that the championship game will be no different. “We are as confident as we have been all year. We haven’t lost a game and don’t plan on losing the championship either,” Stanfield reminded the Post. “[Going] undefeated and winning a chip was the expectation we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season. [Thursday] will just be another day at the office,” Michaels declared.
Concerning Thursday night’s potential MVPs, Stanley believes that seniors Ryan Wilson and Seddie Wibbels will make a seismic impact. Joey considers the fact that in the semifinals on Monday when Team Stanley was trailing by six: “As soon as Ryan came in in the fourth quarter we went up by 16.” Michaels believes that Wibbels will most definitely “hit at least 40 buckets” in the championship game. He also expresses gratitude for the team’s “fearless leader, head coach Malik Pinto [who’s] been a steady hand to guide us through the season.” Stanfield agrees with both of his teammates but is also quick to credit the team as a whole: “More recently it has been much more of a team effort, and I don’t think we rely on just a player or two.”
Other than hard work and grit, Team Crowley believes it has a considerable amount of talent to thank for positioning them in contention for the title. “Josh Howell is our X factor. If he’s on then we win, simple,” Rashaun Burt claimed. Jim Stanfield thinks “Chris Holliday is our most important player. He took over the [semifinal] game on Monday by getting involved on the glass and driving to the lane.”
Despite the Storm Troopers’ big talk, Chris Holliday is not worried. “They put their pants on one leg at a time like everyone else,” Holliday said of his opponents. “Team Stanley’s biggest threat is…hmm…I don’t see one,” Burt remarked. Burt believes that Team Stanley’s bold statements are not helping them in any way, responding, “Their biggest weakness is that they never shut up.”
Sean Michaels is by no means concerned about Team Crowley’s talent, claiming, “We fear no one. Greatness has no fear, therefore, no one threatens the Storm Troopers.” Mercer Stanfield showed no hesitation when calling out his brother as one of their opponent’s liabilities. “Our opponents’ weakness is in their free-throw shooting, specifically with Jim Stanfield. That dude can’t make a free throw to save his life.”
Despite both teams making bold claims and targeted comments, all players are reminded that Thursday’s matchup concludes both their season and for the seniors, their Woodcroft basketball career. Jim Stanfield expressed immense gratitude to both the league and his team this season. “I’ve loved this team and couldn’t have asked for a better last team in my long Woodcroft career.” For Mercer, Thursday’s culmination is an opportunity to fulfill a much sought after goal. “I’ve had a really good time this season and coming out on top would be amazing, being that this is my last season and I have never won the championship.” Michaels is excited to celebrate his esteemed Woodcroft legacy. “I look forward to ending my Woodcroft career as a champion and having my jersey lofted in the rafters and cementing my place amount the various other Woodcroft basketball legends,” he observed.
Childhood dreams, sibling bragging rights, and city–nay, state-wide fame are all at stake on Thursday night. Will the Troopers finish a perfect season? Will Team Crowley pull off a stunning upset? Which Stanfield twin will emerge victorious? All these questions and more will be answered in less than 24 hours.