Faces of the Future: Eureka 5th Grade Basketball Team


Moses Dohner

Picture this: you’re at a basketball game. But it doesn’t look like any normal game. It looks more like a piece of art. The passing is seamless. The movements are impeccable. The shots are spectacular. It all flows together. It is amazing. What’s even more impressive is that the game you are watching is a 5th grade basketball game. That’s right. 5TH GRADE. And the best part is that this team is from Eureka.


The Eureka 5th grade basketball team finished 34-1 on the season. They dominated the competition. The members of the team are Ezra Dohner, Kyle Cochran, Eli Sliger, Ethan Otto, Kal Brown, Drew Sauder, Kash Balducci, Luke Spangler, Abram Funderburk, Brodie Wettstein, and Clayton McClure. This group is incredibly talented. They’ve got scorers, facilitators, defenders and hustlers. They all fit together to make a star-studded team.


Some highlights of the season include winning the Eureka Tournament, winning the Heller Tournament, winning the Dee-Mack Tournament, beating Morton, and beating Olympia. The journey has come with some hurdles, though. The team suffered their only loss on January 12, 2023, to Metamora. 


I interviewed player Ezra Dohner. When asked about the loss, he was quick to respond, “ We knew that we just had to play the next game.” 


After the loss, they got a shot at redemption. They played Metamora again and beat them. I interviewed player Kal Brown. He smiled and described the win as “fun” and that it felt good to get redemption. 


After the loss, the Hornets went undefeated for the rest of the season. But, in the last week of the season, they faced their biggest challenge. They took part in the Lincoln Tournament, a star-studded, AAU Tournament. The tournament was stacked. There were teams from St. Louis, Springfield, Champaign, and other big cities. 


I interviewed player Luke Spangler and asked him about the challenge the tournament brought. He said, “All these AAU teams can pull these kids from anywhere for them to come play with their teams. For us, we are working with what we got.”


Even though this was true, the Hornets managed to beat Teutopolis and Flight Elite 2030 (from St. Louis) to earn first in their pool on Saturday. On Sunday, they beat Illinois Truth (from Champaign) to advance to the Semis. In the Semifinals, they beat Dunlap to advance to the Championship, where they played Capital City Teamwork (from Springfield). They played a very hard fought game, and eventually took them out to win their 4th tournament of the year.


This was an awesome team and an awesome season. They improved so much. I am very excited to see them in the future, because I believe that they have the possibility to be one of the best teams that this town has ever seen.