For Claira McGowan, coach Spencer Richardson and the rest of Team Brandan Wright 2021 UAA, a promising start Sunday at the Triple Crown NIC was turning into something else.
An impressive beginning had quickly grown cold. BW's 6-0 lead turned into a deficit against FBC Bounce Nation 2021, and Richardson's team had missed 13 straight shots.
Not to worry. Team BW turned to its pressure defense, and it made it all the difference. When all was said and done, Richardson's team had forced 25 turnovers en route to a 53-27 victory in the 17u division.
"We're a pretty good shooting team, but we know that any time our shots aren't falling, we can rely on our defense -- and that's what happened today," said McGowan, who had four steals. "We were struggling to make shots, but then started getting points off of turnovers."
Nine different Team BW players had at least one steal.
"We've always got to play really hard on defense," said Amelia Osgood, who led all scorers with 11 points. "We didn't worry too much, because we know it's just a matter of time before we get our flow going on offense again."
Once those shots started falling, Team BW started to assert itself on the scoreboard. Ellen Colson, Nicole Egeruoh and Tameia Shaw all had baskets late in the first half to give their club a 20-14 halftime lead. Osgood opened the second half with a 3-pointer, pushing the lead to nine.
FBC, which was led by seven points apiece from Sade Harell and Bryana Hardy, scored twice to cut its deficit to 23-18. But then Team BW turned up the pressure again.
Richardson's team forced nine turnovers the final four minutes of the third quarter, going on a 14-2 run that turned a close five-point game into a 37-20 rout by the end of the third period.
"Some games it clicks more than others, but sometimes it requires a bold personality to step up and get a stop when your team needs it," McGowan said. "Usually, we make more shots and so our defense doesn't have to carry us as much. But today, it had to carry us."
Three-pointers by Osgood, McGowan and Iyana Moore helped extend the lead to 28 before an FBC basket at the buzzer.
In the 15u division of the TC NIC, Team BW 2023 Black was the only squad to go a perfect 4-0 on the weekend. Three other Team BW squads in the division were 3-0.
FBC Black JG improved to 2-2 as it earned a solid win over Rocky Mountain Fever 66-42 Sunday morning to start the final day of the Triple Crown NIC.
Trailing early 14-6, FBC Black JG went on a 9-0 run thanks to two 3-pointers and an old-fashioned 3-point play to take a 15-14 lead late in the quarter. Rocky Mountain Fever would sink a field goal to take the lead after one quarter of play. However, the second quarter would see FBC Black JG flip the script by out-scoring Rocky Mountain Fever
21-8 to take a 36-23 lead at halftime.
“With [Rocky Mountain Fever’s] style of play, they want you to help on defense and leave their shooters open,” said FBC Black JG head coach Johnny Gray, Jr. “Once the girls got disciplined and stayed to their man, I think that really made the difference in the game.”
FBC Black JG would win the third quarter of the game, 25-12, before cruising through the fourth quarter of the contest.
Kamryn Collins and Kyra Jefferson each had 16 points to lead the way for FBC Black JG.
SUCCESSFUL TRIP EAST FOR ROCKY MOUNTAIN FEVER
While Rocky Mountain Fever didn’t win the first game of the day, the team still had a successful weekend after going 3-2, closing tournament play Sunday morning with a 61-26 win over Team Brandan Wright 2021/2022 Rise. Three players scored in double-figures for Rocky Mountain Fever, led by Makylee Buell’s 16.
“It was so much fun,” said Buell of the tournament. “I’ve never been this far for basketball. I think it was a good tournament for us to come and rank ourselves and see how we play together.”
Buell says her teams like to play fast, but the speed this weekend was different. “We’re learning to play fast, but this was a different pace,” she said. “I think we learned how to play together through thick and thin and to play for each other.”
“I was pretty happy,” said Rocky Mountain Fever head coach Brandon Valdez. “Friday night seems like a long time ago now, but we played one of the best Brandan Wright teams and played A-plus basketball for the entire game. We shot the ball extremely well, we hit 10 3-pointers and we shot 90 percent from the line.”
While the second day of the tournament was a different story, Coach Valdez felt his team took a lot out of the two games. “We took some knocks Saturday. We had a couple of players go down due to injury, and we finished off with a small bench, but overall, I’m very happy.”
Coach Valdez was happy to be able to bring his team east to get looks from coaches east of the Mississippi River. “Some of these kids are being recruited by some schools that, instead of having to travel way out there, it really gives them a different look.”
Overall, the tournament was highly on the list of tournaments that Rocky Mountain Fever attended this year. “I think this is one of the best tournaments we’ve been to all year because of the competition. I talk to some of the other coaches before the game, and they tell me they have five or six D-I recruits. We probably only have one D-I kid, but we were able to play with these teams and compete with them at a high level,” Coach Valdez said.
LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR ABA BLACK
Head Coach Steven Gardner knew this weekend was going to be a learning experience for his ABA Black squad. The team, based out of Vancouver, Wash., travelled a long way to play against teams that play much different styles. Still, while ABA Black didn’t pick up any victories to put in the win column, the squad still exceeded the team’s expectations.
“It’s been great,” Coach Gardner said. “We’re young, so we knew we were going to take some lumps. We usually travel east, but not with a team this young.”
Coach Gardner’s side was filled with primarily high school freshmen and sophomores, with only a couple of juniors to provide leadership.
“It’s been great to see these teams from the southeast,” Coach Gardner said. “These teams are a little more physical than the teams we usually see out west. I think we’ve learned to handle the pressure and play with a little more physicality.
“We really just wanted to compete,” Gardner said. “They’ve really exceeded my expectations. They came out and played hard.”
COACHES GETTING A LOT OUT OF NIC
With over 40 D-I college coaches registered for the Triple Crown NIC, and more arriving during the day Sunday, there were plenty of eyes watching the talent during the weekend. The coaches were pleased with what they saw from the tournament.
“This is an amazing tournament at an amazing facility,” said Tennessee State University assistant coach Deont’a McChester. “I hope that we’re able to keep this local tournament here, but I am thoroughly impressed with this tournament. There’s great people running it and there’s great resources for the young ladies to go out and see what’s in the Franklin and Nashville area.”
“There’s a lot of great talent that’s come out,” said University of North Alabama assistant coach John Ashley. “It’s great to be able to turn over every stone, see some kids from places we weren’t necessarily coming here to see, but get a chance to see how they play.”
By Jason Hanes
Four teams in the 17u division moved into Sunday play undefeated at the Triple Crown NIC as BounceNation FBC 2020 Jay used a big first half to defeat Team Brandon Wright 2020 UAA, 68-51, in Franklin, Tenn., Saturday afternoon.
“We came out of the gate really intense on defense,” said Genesis Bryant, who had 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds in the win.
BounceNation FBC 2020 Jay used an 8-0 run midway through the first quarter, highlighted by 3-pointers from Loyal McQueen and Sallie Schutz, to take a 13-4 lead. McQueen would finish the quarter with seven points to lead her team to a 17-7 lead after eight minutes.
The second quarter saw BounceNation FBC 2020 Jay use a 15-0 run to take a 32-7 lead. Delaney Trushel scored to end the run, and Team Brandon Wright 2020 UAA would close back within 18 points at the half, 36-18, after a 3-pointer by Zharia Hutchinson.
McQueen drilled a 3-pointer right out of the gate in the second half to get the lead back to 21. However, for most of the third and fourth quarters, Team Brandon Wright 2020 UAA would hang around at a distance, never closing into single digits, but never falling behind by more than 22.
“We really did well in transition,” said BounceNation FBC 2020 Jay head coach Jarius Moore. “We did well getting rebounds; we did well getting out and running. When we were able to get out in transition and run, our girls did a good job in exploiting the match-ups.”
Coach Moore likes using his guards on rebounds. “They get out and rebound at the guard position. A lot of people forget that we have a forward playing the center spot. We are a lot like Golden State with Draymond Green in there, and we gang rebound a lot.”
“We like to play fast, so sometimes, we go with a smaller lineup,”
Bryant said. “I know they rely on me to get rebounds a lot, so I have to play inside and out.”
Bryant has been impressed by the quality of play at the NIC. “There’s a high caliber of players that we’re playing. Everybody here can ball.
We have to lock down on defense and also run our offense.”
Along with BounceNation FBC 2020 Jay, Team Brandan Wright 2021 UAA, All-Alabama Roadrunners, and All- Alabama Roadrunners 2021 each kept an unblemished record going into Sunday play.
By Jason Hanes
Amiyah Payne had 25 points and seven rebounds to pace the All-Alabama Roadrunners to a 67-55 victory over FBC Black JB, 67-55, in 17u action at the Triple Crown NIC Saturday morning in Franklin, Tenn.
“I just stayed aggressive the entire time,” Payne said. “Just kept the intensity up for my team. We tried to put our energy into defense to get us good looks on offense."
Transition baskets by the All-Alabama Roadrunners helped the side take a 15-7 lead in the first quarter, as Dakiyah Sanders came up with a pair of steals at midcourt that led to buckets. Jamya Tyus sank a lay-up in the waning seconds of the first quarter to make it 21-12 after the first eight minutes.
“With the extended zone we play on defense, it’s catered towards people who want to drive. That was [FBC Black JB’s] strength is driving to the basket, so that’s what we had to cut off,” said All-Alabama Roadrunners head coach Beverly Kirk. “We were able to make adjustments to what they were doing.”
FBC Black JB used free-throws to trim the lead to six early in the second quarter, eventually cutting the lead to three, 23-20, with just under four minutes left in the half. An 8-0 run would give All-Alabama Roadrunners a double-digit lead, with Sanders scoring on a lay-up to cap the run. Hannah Edwards would make a pair of free throws in the final minute to make it 33-24 at halftime.
FBC Black JB scored first four points of the second half, but a triple by Payne and a transition bucket by Kiana Montgomery made it 38-28 sending FBC Black JB into a timeout. A great feed by Sanders to Payne ended in an easy basket after the timeout to make it a 12-point advantage after the timeout. The lead would swell to 17, but FBC Black JB would trim the lead to 13, 47-34, after three quarters.
Payne sent a message with a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, with the shooting guard pushing the advantage up to 18 for her side with another bucket. Payne says she tries to emulate NBA great Kobe Bryant in her play. “Before this year, I used to just be a slasher,” Payne said. “Now I incorporate my shooting more. I try to be a playmaker. That’s what I want to be.”
“Amiyah’s just a player that can take a guard with her size, and she can take a post with her moves,” Coach Kirk said. “She’s just so versatile, and she works hard every day.”
FBC Black JB got it down to 12 after a 3-pointer by Cayla Cowart made it 57-45. Missed free-throws by the All-Alabama Roadrunners kept FBC Black JB in it, with a triple by Eden Sample getting the lead down to nine. After a timeout, Edwards on a quick inbound scored the lead back into double-digits, and the All-Alabama Roadrunners would coast to a twelve-point victory.
Kamryn Collins scored 17 points to lead the way for FBC Black JB. Asjah Inniss had seven rebounds.
In addition to Payne’s 25 points, Tyus scored 14 and Edwards ended up a rebound short of a double-double after scoring 10 points.
Coach Kirk knows it’s still a long tournament, but she is happy with what she has seen so far at the NIC. “Any time you have good organization and you have referees that are calling good games and protecting my big girls, that’s what I look for in an event.”
By Jason Hanes
In a highly competitive 17u division game Friday night, TN SOL pulled ahead in the third quarter and held on to defeat FBC BounceNation 2021 56-46 at the Triple Crown NIC in Franklin, Tenn.
“I think controlling the backboard was the key to the game,” said TN SOL head coach and nine-year NBA veteran Trenton Hassell. “When [FBC BounceNation] made their run in the second half, they did a good job of getting to the offensive boards. We did a good job controlling the defensive boards in the first half, but we didn’t do that great in the second half.”
FBC BounceNation 2021 led 9-3 midway through first but TN SOL rallied back to tie the game, 9-9. In the final minute of the quarter, Karlee Armstrong drained a 3-pointer off an inbound play to give the lead back to FBC BounceNation 2021 12-9 at end of the first eight minutes.
TN SOL would start to take advantage the three-point plays, both the deep shot and traditional varieties, to gain the lead. Courtney Daniels would connect on a 3-pointer to give TN SOL the lead, 17-15, and spark a run. The run would become 8-0 when Chelsea Williams converted a traditional three-point play to make it 22-15 for TN SOL. FBC BounceNation 2021 would score the next five in a row to trim the lead to two, but Makayla Artis would hit a jumper in the paint with 17 seconds left in the half to restore a four-point lead at the break, 24-20.
FBC BounceNation 2021 inched closer, trimming the lead to one early in the third quarter, but a three-point play by Alli Douglas restored a four-point edge for TN SOL, 29-25. Size would play a big factor in the next stretch for TN SOL, as offensive rebounds led to second and third chances. When Artis converted a bucket in the paint with just under three minutes left in the third quarter, TN SOL had its largest lead of the game to that point at 10, 38-28.
“We’re not quick, but we’ve got a lot of size,” said Coach Hassell. “We use that to our advantage, offensively and defensively, to clean up the glass.”
In the final stanza, FBC BounceNation 2021 would have opportunities, but shots just wouldn’t fall, enabling TN SOL to keep at least a two-possession lead for most of the period. FBC BounceNation 2021 would force some turnovers down the stretch to get the final score closer, but TN SOL held on for a 10-point victory.
“[BounceNation] is super-athletic and they’re grown,” Coach Hassell said. “Down at the end, we made some careless plays. We maybe got tired at the end, but they are a good, solid team.”
With a win under their belts, TN SOL can look ahead to strong competition throughout Saturday and Sunday. “I love the tournament. I think it’s well-organized,” said Coach Hassell. “I love that we have a shot clock. We’ve got a lot of [college] coaches here, and we’ve got some of the best teams around.”
By Jason Hanes
Led by a stout defense and lights-out shooting in the second half, Team B-Wright 2021 UAA pulled away for a 68-34 win over ABA Black 2021 in one of the opening 17u division games of the 2019 Triple Crown NIC in Franklin, Tenn., Friday night.
“[ABA Black] came out in a zone, and when we’re moving the ball and find the open spaces, we’ve got several girls that can go up and make open shots,” said Team B-Wright 2021 UAA Head Coach Spencer Richardson.
The first quarter saw Team B-Wright 2021 show what it could do as the team from nearby Murfreesboro, Tenn., held ABA Black to just two field goals en route to a 17-7 lead after the first quarter.
Leading 33-17 at the half, Team B-Wright 2021 would exploit open looks from distance to blow the game open in the second half. Claira McGowan connected on three triples in the third quarter to help put the game out of reach.
“She’s a leader. She’s a court general,” said Coach Richardson. “She’s a pass-first point guard, but she’s the type of kid that loves to come in and catch-and-shoot. She’ll take point guard shots. She loves the floater, and she loves taking wide open shots.”
The Team Brandon Wright program is in a unique situation at the Triple Crown NIC. Based a short distance away from Franklin, Tenn., the program has taken on the mantle of being the home team for the event.
“We’ve built a great relationship with Triple Crown,” Coach Richardson said. “We’re playing this as if we’re the host team, and we’re having a great time. I know this is just the first day, but I think tomorrow is going to be even better.”
The club basketball season always comes with a few unknowns, but there’s something the 17u CBC Adidas Elite squad out of Highlands Ranch, Co., will almost always display.
Without hesitation and regardless of the score, CBC ran its offense with a relentless drive on Sunday, wrapping up the 17u Elite title at the Colorado’s Finest Basketball Exhibition with a 67-48 victory over Clutch-Red (Oregon) at the Metro State University fieldhouse in Denver.
CBC had a 20-point lead at halftime, authoring the finals blows in thee fourth quarter as Jana Van Gytenbeek hit a couple of 3-points and added a layup off a steal. Mikayla Hemingway also was a handful to guard, getting a lot of good looks inside and out, nailing multiple 3-pointers along the way.
Not every shot went in, but the sheer volume of good looks allowed CBC to control matters from the start.
“When we get up, we just have to keep our composure and play as a team and not get down on each other,” said Hemingway, who is a junior at Cherokee Trail High School. “The goals right now are to play as a team, play hard every game and if we win, we win. It’s all about playing as a team – we love playing fast, push the ball, because most teams can’t keep up with us.”
“We’re trying to come together as a team, get some games under our belt. We played a viewing tournament last weekend, so it was nice to get out there and play again and prepare for the next one in May,” said CBC coach Tammy Neuhaus. “They’re doing a nice job of finding each other right now. Our rebounding starts our transition, so if we don’t do that we can’t transition. The rebounding is the most important thing.”
CBC beat Rocky Mountain Fever in the semis, 64-34, and started Sunday with a 56-34 victory over Rockies Blue Star.
CBC Gauntlet Boost won the 17 Prime championship, 49-47 over PSB UA Rise. The 14u championship was claimed by New Mexico Select, 55-29, over CBC U14 Prime; the 16u Prime champion was the Spokane Legacy White, which topped New Mexico Select, 63-41.
After a long day on the basketball floor, and no victories to show for it, confidence can be a very elusive topic.
For the Southern Colorado-South Central Elite, pool play on Saturday at the Colorado’s Finest Exhibition was a sobering journey, with three losses threatening to spoil the mood. But coming in as a low seed in Sunday’s bracket action became a rallying cry, and the Elite (a 15u team playing up for the occasion) rumbled to the top 16u title with a 56-43 victory over BC Denver at Regis University fieldhouse in Denver.
Sunday began with a 52-41 victory over No. 1 seed Rocky Mountain Hoops; in the semis, the Elite won 56-48 over Parker Premier U15. The championship game saw the Elite fully executing its game plan, jumping ahead 17-7 after one quarter and never losing at least a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
The BC Denver squad had to turn around and play the final maybe 10 minutes after their semifinal win (46-44 over Clutch-Rose), and the Elite pounced on the advantage of being more rested.
“It was mental toughness; we didn’t come out ready to play (Saturday). Once we figured out we are a 15u team and a little bit younger, we had to come out with a different mentality of toughness to hang with them,” said South Central Elite coach Cory Louther. “It’s not about skill, because we are skilled. When we bring the mental toughness, we can hang with teams that play a tough brand of basketball.
“The approach was, they were a lot bigger than us, and since they had just come off a game, they wanted to pound it inside. We went 2-3 zone, extended it, allowed no 3’s, and if they hit a two-point shot we were OK with that. But on the long rebounds we were already extended, and we got out and ran.”
Kate Gallery, a freshman, scored 11 points for the Elite in the first quarter, showing much enthusiasm for sprinting to the rim and knowing precisely when to make the cut to the rim for an open look. She finished with 22 points and eight rebounds.
“(Saturday) was not like us; we didn’t have our mojo like we normally have. Today, we came in with a chip on our shoulder, knowing we were going to be underestimated,” Gallery said. “We knew (BC Denver) had just had a hard game, so running them helped us out. It felt really good, and it gave us relief to know we could get out and score and not fall behind 14-0 like we did (Saturday).”
“Kate is super skilled, tall and plays the guard position, skilled with both hands who can take it to the hole and shoot it,” Louther said. “She’s got a lot of potential.”
The South Central Elite is made up primarily of players from Pueblo West and Canon City high schools. Madelyn Ley had nine points for the Elite, and Gabby Louther and Sydnee Smith each added eight points.
BC Denver got 11 points from Payton Sterk; Savitri Jackson had nine points, scoring seven straight in the final two minutes of the third quarter.
Get your club in the mix at the Triple Crown NIC basketball tournament, set for May 17-19 in Franklin, TN, just outside of Nashville.
SPECIAL OFFER: Bring one team for the regular entry fee, and it’s 50% OFF for every team after that from your organization. We’re playing on the standout wood floors at Courts 615.
This NCAA-Certified event with a four-game guarantee (14u, 16u, 17u) will give teams the right mix of competitive challenge and the chance to be seen by college coaches representing all levels of the sport.
Event highlights include:
-Shot clocks, two scorekeepers per table - supplied by TC Basketball
-Games streamed live
-Semifinals and championship game will be broadcast live
-NCAA DI, DII, DIII, NAIA and JUCO colleges in attendance
For more information, click HERE
TC Basketball director John Casale and Kelly Peek of the All-Ohio Xpress
Kelly Peek has loved and lived the game of basketball from early childhood, when her brother (who is seven years older) took no pity in driveway hoops, blocking her shot and compelling her to dig in and master the finer points of the sport.
After playing collegiately at Toledo and Wright State, injuries forced her to the sidelines, and she got a taste for coaching at her prep alma mater, Dayton (OH) Christian. The unique thrill that comes with sharing your insight propelled Peek deeper into coaching, where today she helms the Xpress and fields impressive teams featuring collegiate-level talent up and down the roster.
She came through the Triple Crown offices in late January to visit with TC Basketball staff.
Q: It’s one thing to help out at your old high school, and another to get deeper into club sports. How did that play out for you?
I moved to Cincinnati and began helping a friend coach fifth- and sixth-graders, and that advanced (around 1998) into AAU or something like it, because they wanted to play spring ball. We took a pounding. I got interested in running my own program and vowed I’d come back and beat every one of those teams. One of those games we lost, 84-7, a score I would never forget. Interestingly, later parents from that team began contacting me because they liked how I coached, and that’s how things got rolling – I called it the Queen City Crossover.
I had good U13 and U14 teams, finishing top 8 in AAU, and that kind of phased out and Nike started exposure tournaments. We started in some of those. College coaches were watching and interested, and one coach had a few recruits heading to her program from St. Louis, and she asked me if they could play with us. That was where we took it to the next level and changed the name to Midwest Xpress.
Then, there was All-Ohio basketball, and I helped (that person) grow a couple tournaments. He gave me two players, then we became the All-Ohio Xpress. I will also play as just Xpress, and if it’s best for the kids we will play an Adidas tournament. Whatever works for the kids, that’s how I view things.
Q: Are you tempted to grow the club into multiple teams?
I have one team, maybe two, and I see it as all-encompassing. I asked college coaches what is it that kids don’t do well as freshmen; they said they don’t understand man-to-man (defense), so 90 percent of the time we do that. Coaches said they want players physically stronger, so we work on that.
I try to get kids, 6th or 7th grade … keep that core together. Then there will be others who want to play with those kids. You’ll have 1-3 changes every year, when you tell a kid or parent this isn’t the right fit or they want more playing time or something … and there are distractions in junior high. By the time you’re in 8th grade and you’re not interested in playing in college, my team is not for you.
Q: What are your program’s priorities?
I do the total mind, body and basketball. I realized I couldn’t do this by myself. Soccer is really big on having a trainer and a coach, so I adopted the soccer model. I have a trainer, and a lot of them are AAU coaches with their own programs, but they train my teams and it works great. It’s another voice.
We work on footwork, shooting form. And especially for the girls … either they seem to be 3-point shooters or they make layups. What makes my kids more marketable – mid-range is very important. We work on everything, but I know what’s going to separate my kids. If we can play off the bounce ... those coaches are going to remember my teams. I’m trying to get my kids to have more value than be specialized.
Q: What’s your take on the shape of the game, its ability to grow and thrive?
Outside of AAU, girls basketball is shrinking. Volleyball is less physical. You get the same number of scholarships in volleyball as basketball. In soccer, you have to share scholarships, where if you’re a backup goalie, that’s a 50 percent scholarship. In the Midwest, JV basketball games used to be good, and today they’re doing away with freshman teams … the better freshmen are on varsity. Down south, there’s enough basketball to carry this thing, but the numbers are lower than they were 10 years ago.
Here's a (very) partial list of collegiate players who came through Peek's program:
Tihanna Fulton (Miami-Ohio)
Amani Burke (Ohio U.)
Alea Harris (Wofford)
Abby Voss (Florida Atlantic)
Jailyn Mason (Arkansas)
Sam Rodgers (Cincinnati)
Maya Dunson (Loyola-Chicago)
Olivia Trice (Bowling Green)