Merry Acres Middle School topped Dougherty International Middle School Thursday to win the 2012 Dougherty County Middle School Academic Bowl. Team members are, from left, Coach Tammy Bankole, Coach Valencia Rivers, Byron Williams, Mary Rachel Bonner, John Hatcher, team capt. Jarrett Smith, Saloni Patel, Katherine Windom and Coach Rhonda Harden. Not pictured is Robert Peacock.
ALBANY, Ga. — Merry Acres Middle School will hold onto the Christine Blaylock Cup for at least another year.
Merry Acres defended its Dougherty County Middle School Academic Bowl crown Thursday, beating Dougherty International Middle School 100-30 to win its eighth championship in the past 12 years.
Dougherty earned its first shot at the finals by ousting perennial power Robert Cross in the competition's semifinal round.
"We brought back five team members from last year's championship team," Merry Acres coach Rhonda Harden said. "They are a very competitive group and wanted to carry on the Merry Acres tradition of winning."
In addition to Merry Acres, Dougherty Middle and Robert Cross, Radium Middle, Southside Middle and Albany Middle also participated in the tournament.
"It feels really good to have defended our championship," Merry Acres team captain Jarrett Smith said. "I think we were a little jittery in the first round, but Byron (Williams) helped pull us through. I think we are most happy about no team scoring more than 50 points on us."
In addition to Smith and Williams, Mary Rachel Bonner, Saloni Patel, Katherine Windom and John Hatcher rounded out the Merry Acres team. Robert Peacock is also a team member but did not attend the competition. Harden, Valencia Williams and Tammy Bankole were the squad's coaches.
Dougherty's second-place finish was a sweet moment for Academic Bowl Coordinator Roderick Pollock, who is also an assistant principal at the school.
"I think it was a really exciting competition," Pollock said. "But I have to let my bias leak through here. Dougherty had never before beaten Robert Cross in an Academic Bowl, and this second-place finish is our highest ever. I could not be more pleased."
Merry Acres, Dougherty, Robert Cross and Southside advanced to the regional competition, which will be held in January at a site to be determined.