Good Sports: Clovis team mixes sports success with academics

FRESNO, Calif.

"If you were just to look at the two teams you would as that team's going to get hurt or beat up," said Clovis North Stampede Coach Troy Mathias. "But as soon as we start playing, they play together. There's truly something to team chemistry. And this team has it."

Focusing on intangibles, and perfecting them, have made the Stampede one of the best 11-12 year old AAU teams in the country.

"We have really good players and we've known each other for a while," said Stampede guard Fihr Chaudhary. "So we're just good."

The players are best friends - four of the nine live a block apart.

"Our neighborhood could probably play anywhere in the world," said Stampede guard Trace Mathias.

And their team chemistry, by all accounts, has helped lead to wins on the court.

"We know each other really well," said Stampede forward Trent Tompkins. "We can pass the ball and we know how fast they are."

"We know where our players are going to go," said Stampede center Seth Riley. "So we can go somewhere else and get open."

But equally impressive is what the boys were able to do off the court, and in the classroom. Their team grade point average is an astounding 3.8!

"Five of the kids go to the same elementary school as my son and they all went up for high honor roll," Coach Mathias said. "There were only like 13 in the whole school, and five of them were on our team. And I was like, 'Wow I didn't realize that.' So it was shocking."

And the kids have figured out that smarts on the court can influence the outcome. "We know when to pass it and when not to pass it," explained Riley. "When to shoot. When to drive."

"I wouldn't be playing basketball if I didn't get good grades," said Chaudhary. "My mom wouldn't let me. I'm only playing because I get good grades."

It all adds up to an incredible 2012 season highlighted by 11 tournament wins, and a 55-game winning streak.

"We went to the division three championships and we only got to the semifinals," admitted Riley. "So we're going to try to win that."

Still working for that elusive national championship, and knowing these kids, still working for that elusive 4.0 GPA to go with it.

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