Junior Blazers win Winter Kickoff Classic.BOTTOM: Pictured left to right is Trent Glaser, Carson Schrack, Derrick Toomey, Brady LeCluyse.  SECOND ROW: Conner Wisecup, Tyler Butash, Braden Smith, Zack Soza and Jake McClure. Photo courtesy of Kim Wisecup

Junior Blazers win Winter Kickoff Classic. BOTTOM: Pictured left to right is Trent Glaser, Carson Schrack, Derrick Toomey, Brady LeCluyse. SECOND ROW: Conner Wisecup, Tyler Butash, Braden Smith, Zack Soza and Jake McClure. Photo courtesy of Kim Wisecup

The 6th Grade Gardner Blazers participated in the Winter Kickoff Classic hosted by Agape Sports on Dec. 5-7 in Gardner. The squad, coached by Corey Schrack, Kent Glaser and Matt McClure, went 4-0 on the weekend and capped it off by winning the championship game at the College Basketball Experience in Downtown Kansas City on Monday, Dec. 7th.
In game one of pool play, played at Pioneer Ridge Middle School, the Blazers jumped out early to a 12-2 lead over the Shawnee Knights en route to a 40-30 victory. The Blazers relied on their press to force some early turnovers as well as to control the tempo to negate the size advantage presented by the Knights.
Game two of pool play matched the Blazers against the KC Clutch. The Blazers, playing in back to back pool play games on Saturday, played from behind most of the way versus the Clutch but managed to score 5 points in the final minute to grind out a 24-22 victory. That win propelled the Blazers to the #1 seed in bracket play.
Bracket play on Sunday, at Trail Ridge Middle School, again matched the Blazers versus the Shawnee Knights. Using the same blueprint from the previous game against the Knights, the Blazers came out in a full court press to speed up the game to force the Knights into several early turnovers. Combining a full court press and a trapping 1-3-1 defense, the Blazers played ahead all day, claiming a 54-43 win propelling them to the championship Monday night against the KC Breakaway.
In the title game, the Blazers, using a swarming defense to force some early turnovers, jumped to a 10-0 lead. The lead in the 2nd half swelled to as many as 20 points as the Blazers controlled the pace with their defense, cruising to a 52-38 win.
The Blazers, now 6-2 on the season, play league games at Okun Fieldhouse and will play 2 more tournaments this winter.