CMS hoops players are winners, on and off court

The Columbia Middle School eighth grade boys basketball team went 18-0 on the season and a perfect 35-0 over the past two seasons. Pictured, front row, from left, is team manager Braden Meyers with Cade Hettenhausen, Jared Germain, Steven Redinger, Kyle Steve and Brennen Van Breusegen; back row: Drew Worley, Darren Cookson, Luke Volmert, coach Jon Wehrenberg, Luke Schnaak, Sam Spivey, Tanner Tullis, Jordan Holmes, Jake Mathews, Mitch Daniels and assistant coach Mike Stratton. (submitted photo)

With a victory against Freeburg over the weekend, the Columbia Middle School eighth grade boys basketball team completed a perfect 18-0 season. The same group of boys went 17-0 as seventh graders, making them 35-0 in two years of CMS hoops.

While finishing undefeated in any sport is quite an accomplishment, coach Jon Wehrenberg said his team’s positive attitude and generosity both on and off the court make for a magical bunch.

“I can honestly say in my 30 years of coaching basketball, I have never coached a better team,” Wehrenberg said. “In a day and age of selfishness and egos, this team was a throwback to playing the game the right way and making an impact in your community outside of the game. They did it the right way!”

The team started off the school year by cutting their hair to raise money for the St. Louis Challenger special needs baseball program. The team then prepared a Thanksgiving feast for their teachers and read them appreciation letters, and also helped several times with Patriots Special Olympics basketball in working with special needs kids.

“They were the most unselfish group I have ever coached, and it showed on the court,” Wehrenberg said. “They are a group of kids that loved each other and everyone worked together.”

Wehrenberg coached the team as seventh graders last year, after which he decided to retire. That was short-lived, however, when eighth grade coach Eric Turner left Columbia. Wehrenberg assumed the eighth grade coaching duties.

“It was a true blessing to work with these kids for two years,” he said.

On the court, CMS was led by point guard Jordan Holmes, and “big men” Mitch Daniels and Sam Spivey. Brennan Van Brusegan and Kyle Steve rounded out the starting five, playing smart basketball and distributing the ball to the big three scorers, the coach said.

Luke Schnaak was probably the best sixth man in the area and contributed great defense and playmaking ability, Wehrenberg added.

The rest of the team included Jared Germain, Tanner Tullis, Cade Hettenhausen, Jake Mathews, Darren Cookson, Luke Volmert, Drew Worley, and Steven Redinger.

Freeburg did a great job of containing Holmes in the championship, Wehrenberg said, but Sam Spivey came up big for his team with 21 points. Spivey also pulled off a crucial play late in the game, inbounding the ball off a Freeburg player and back to himself for a layup.

“It was done to perfection,” Wehrenberg said.

Another huge play was Germain coming off the bench for the first time with one minute to play and taking a charge to seal the victory.

“He is the smallest kid on the floor but plays with incredible courage,” the coach said.

While their official season has come to an end, true to form, the team will participate in a “players vs. faculty” game Monday during which special needs students will compete with them.

“Simply the best kids I have been around,” Wehrenberg said.

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