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Basketball fever hits San Luis Obispo middle school students

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 15, 2022

As college basketball's biggest tournament of the year begins, Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo is holding its own version of March Madness.

P.E. teacher Joe Ottrando says it all started about ten years ago.

"I coach here and I'm a fan of the real March Madness," Ottrando explained. "I've been to the real one about seven or eight times and I wanted to try to recreate it on a much smaller scale here at Laguna. We decided to have games in the gym, post brackets, have pre-game music, have the scoreboard, and winners move on, losers are eliminated and we also balance out the teams and make it fair and competitive for everyone."

There are 12 7th grade teams and nine 8th grade teams, and all of the teams get their own names.

"We were the opening team and we thought it was just gonna be like five on five, nobody in the gym, just kinda chill, and then like the whole school started coming in," said Quiten Kramer, 7th grade, "Team Gonzaga."

"A lot of my friends were doing it. I actually don't play basketball, I don't even watch basketball (but) it was a lot of fun. We got to play against my friends and other good basketball players," said Maddie Immos, 7th grade, "Team Kansas."

"It was unique because we obviously got the school season but we got like other people who didn't really get to play basketball before which is fun to teach them and stuff," added Jacob Gill, 8th grade, "Team Texas."

"We had watched all the games that this team has played and they've won all their games by a landslide and so we were really worried that we were going to get crushed but we didn't. We only lost by nine points which was pretty good," said 8th grader Sofia Bates of the game her team, "Team UConn," played Tuesday morning. "We did know that we were probably going to lose and I'm a little disappointed still but it was a super fun experience."

The winning team is presented with the school's March Madness basketball trophy.