Dora Falcons Rise to the Occasion in their First USSSA Tournament
A quick Google search on the town of Dora, MO will take you to a place with a population of just over 1,000 residents, one K-12 school with a total enrollment of right around 350 students, a post office, five churches, and just a few other businesses. To make a comparison, my high school alma mater (Olathe North High School) averages 455 students per grade. So when the 5th grade Dora Falcons team knocked off Powergroup 2020 by seven points in the Div I championship game this past weekend, it left many people, including myself, wondering what they are putting in the water down in Dora, MO.
Up until last weekend, Powergroup 2020 boasted an unblemished 7-0 record and had beaten their opponents by an average of almost 20 points per game; not an easy feat. On paper, a team of seven kids from a town with just over 1,000 people shouldn’t stand a chance against the powerhouse that is Powergroup (their name is very fitting). On top of this, there is something else that makes Dora’s improbable victory that much more fascinating: They did it with just one 5th grader on the roster. The six remaining players on the roster consist of four 4th graders and two 3rd graders. So what is it, then, that makes the Falcons such a difficult team to face?
It starts with head coach, Rick Luna and his three triplets on the team, Mason, Auston and Bryson Luna. Rick is the head basketball coach in Dora and has great knowledge of the game which he shares with his sons, who he calls “gymrats.” The three of them, along with their younger brother Landon who is one of two 3rd graders on the team, regularly sit on the bench during the high school games and even participate in practices against Dora’s junior varsity squad. “There probably isn’t a single play my high school team runs that Mason, Auston and Bryson couldn’t tell you how to run.” The years of coaching experience and the knowledge that Rick has for the game can be seen by the tremendous discipline displayed by the young kids. Rich Parrett, the tournament director at the Kangaroo Classic, said that “even in warm-ups when a lot of the other teams are messing around – as young kids tend to do – they (Dora) stayed very business-like.”
Connor Rackley and Issac Haney round out the starting five for Dora along with the Luna triplets, and both play huge roles for the team. Rackley, who is the lone 5th grader and also the lone “big-man” on the team, gives the Falcons an inside presence on both sides of the ball but can also step out and hit big shots when needed. In fact, it was Rackley’s late 3-pointer that sealed the fate for the Falcons against Powergroup. Haney, the smooth point guard for Dora, is the floor general and another polished scorer to compliment leading scorer, Mason Luna who dumped 21 in the championship game. Bryson and Auston Luna provide the spark defensively while Colby Hoover and Landon Luna give the team much needed minutes off the bench.
The next opportunity for Dora and Powergroup to meet up will be at the Jayhawk Classic on Jan. 5-7 in Lawrence, KS. You can bet that Powergroup is itching for some redemption against the Falcons, but one thing is for certain: Dora will be up for the challenge.