For five consecutive years, one group of young basketball players from Novato has produced perfect record after perfect record. It's believed to be unprecedented in Catholic Youth Organization team history in Marin County.
St. Anthony's eighth-grade girls, many of whom have been playing hoops with each other since fourth grade, recently finished a streak of 51 league victories with a 32-31 victory over San Domenico in the county championship game at Terra Linda High in San Rafael.
Alexis Herr made two pressure free throws with 2.7 seconds left to clinch the victory, and Avery Rose Knight led the team with 10 points. Brianna Beckman was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder not just this season but for each of the past five undefeated seasons.
The team was 8-0 in the regular season for four of the years — 9-0 during one year — and then rolled through 10 playoff victories in all. Including preseason and other tournaments, the team was 92-2, with both losses by just one point. The squad won 13 tournaments in the five-year span, including one in which they were seventh-graders playing in a bracket for eighth-graders.
Of the 10 girls on the team, six have been teammates since the start of the win streak in the fourth grade. They are Herr, Knight, Beckman, Jillian Weidner, Erin Nannery and Kelsey Browne. Other key contributors this season were Janea Early, Shajana Steele, Daniele Bosley and Azziza Ramadan.
Pete Knight, Kurt Weidner and Art Beckman have coached the girls for the last five years. Knight played on the last Novato High boys team to go undefeated in Marin County Athletic League play, in 1978, and has coached various sports in the area since 1976. He credits his assistant coaches, Art Beckman and Kurt Weidner, for the success with the St. Anthony’s girls.
“Without their huge contributions and tireless efforts, this amazing accomplishment would not have come to pass,” he said. “They are true friends and wonderful dads.”
“(They) are three of the best coaches I have ever seen, truly,” said Kessa Early, who has a daughter on the team. “They remain calm and focused, and are such a positive influence on the girls.”