April 22, 2019

Webster Groves men’s high school basketball recalls past glories, shifts view to future

The Webster Groves men’s high school basketball team has pieced together a 113-19 record over the last five years, and closed last season as Class 5 State Champions. Despite losing its three top scorers from last year’s championship version, the young team’s confidence hangs on one word: unity.

Ignited by the progress of their 2019 class, the Webster Groves Statesmen have jumped out to an undefeated 13-0 record, which includes convincing wins over elite programs such as CBC, Kirkwood, and Cardinal Ritter.

The team’s new power comes from leading scorers Amorey Womack and Joe Jones, as well as forwards Stevie Wright and Malachy Simpson, who help lead the squad in rebounding. The team entered this year without two of the top three scorers in their Suburban XII conference, according to STLToday. Nonetheless, they remain as unfazed as ever.

“I’m more than confident,” guard JerQon Conners said. “We have to look for that team chemistry and I think we’ve done well on competing on a team level, and staying in it together.”

The good news is that despite losing the Post-Dispatch All-Metro boys basketball co-player of the year in Courtney Ramey, four-star recruit Carte’Are Gordon, and all-tournament selection guard R.J. Wright, the Statesmen come in with 10 carryovers from that title team from the year prior. With that amount of continuity, the team’s chemistry has yet to suffer.

One characteristic the team has worked to solidify is its off-court camaraderie. Simpson said that the team spent plenty of time getting to know one another, which translated to its  on court success.

“We went on a tour of the aquarium, rode bikes and other stuff just to enjoy the time together,” Simpson said. “Along with that, eating together and just spending most days together at practice, shootarounds, or whatever the case may be. It was fun to be around everyone.”

On that championship night, the Statesmen were able to hold off   Chaminade for a 101-90 victory. This marked their second state championship in as many years; they also became just the third team to repeat in Class 5 history.

The foreshadowing act in that state title came when the Statesmen had to find a way to finish out the game without Ramey, who fouled out with four minutes remaining. With a 13-point lead trimmed to just three, the younger players found a way to step up and deliver. As head coach Jay Blossom said of the time, apprehension was difficult to hide.

“That was scary,”  Blossom said. “That looked like doomsday for a second. I try not to show fear to these guys but I had a little fear in me.”

Others, such as      Malachy Simpson saw the adversity as something that the team could withstand. Even as they faltered to a 3-4 start to the season, took key losses to Vashon and Hazelwood Central, and even after losing Ramey, and both R.J. Wright and Stevie Wright at the most critical moment of the most critical game of the year.

“I was confident in our team,” Simpson said. “I knew that we put in the work and got pushed to be our best by our coaches, so through the adversity, I knew if we just stayed true who we are, it would all work out.”

Now, in the final season of Jay Blossom’s career as a high school coach, the Statesmen – winners of 20 straight games dating back to last year – will have a chance to do something that has never been done before: win three consecutive Class 5 state titles.

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