By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Murray Elementary School 7th and 8th grade boys’ basketball team won the 2013 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Elementary School City Championship. The team’s coach also won the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Coach of the Year Award.
The Murray Wildcats beat Mason Elementary School 33 to 30. Before game night, the team’s head coach Tony Alston received a phone call and learned that he had won the honor of being coach of the year.
“This is our first time receiving both honors,” said Greg Mason, principal of Murray, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave. “It was great watching this team over the last five years and watching their character and athletic skills grow.”
Mason said in addition to being proud of the team’s win, he’s also proud of their conduct in school.
“Many of the team players are honor roll students,” Mason said. “They value academics as well as athletics.”
Alston said the team’s hard work in class and on the basketball court was all a part of “putting the team first.”
“They made the sacrifice and it paid off,” Alston said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Mason also lauded the parental involvement that lead to the team’s formation and success. Alston and his assistant coaches Mike Hill and Larry Stewart are volunteer coaches whose children attend Murray.
Although the team reached its goal of winning the CPS Championship, Alston said Murray’s playing season is not done. They are going on to play in the St. Columbanus Basketball League Championship game.
Alston said the team could not have done so well without the support of school administrators and parents. The team is now looking for corporate sponsors.
On April 23, Alston will travel to an awards banquet at Illinois State University in Bloomington to receive a plaque for his coach of the year achievement.
“It is a great honor and I am glad to be a part,” said Alston, who has been a coach at Murray for six years.
Alston, who has one son at Kenwood Academy and two children at Murray, has also coached at Canter Middle School, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Legends League, the YMCA on 63rd Street and Stony Island Avenue and several different Chicago Park District-based leagues.