Richie and Laura did a great job getting the kids ready and amped for the weekend. On the court, Joi, Matthew, Daniel, Isaiah, and Koda showed that they have not lost anything since last year’s National Championship. Ernesto made the most of his time on the court and probably became the most popular kid in the gym.
The team played so well together. Koda ran the court with ease and the tandem of him and Isaiah was amazing to see. Joi has grown into a force on the court and Daniel and Matthew continue to spark the team with their energy.
Again, congratulations to the Prep team.
For the Varsity tournament, congratulations need to go out to the Rancho Renegades who came back form an early loss to defeat the Utah Jr. Wheelin’ Jazz in the finals to win the tournament and secure a spot in the National tournament in April.
The Bay Cruisers started off with a bang with a convincing win over Phoenix. From the start, James and Koda swarmed the ball and denied Phoenix the opportunity to get it across halfcourt. As the game advanced, Phoenix made their runs but Mackenzie and Chris were able to answer, and Zach was able to shut down things down low and grab some huge rebounds. Rodolfo and Reajean gave great minutes and continue to get better each tournament.
The next game was not as positive for the Cruisers. In all honesty, there are those games that just do not go how you expect them. Utah built a lead early and never turned back. The Cruisers made runs but could not match the team speed from Utah and the open shots simply did not fall for the kids.
Next up – Rancho. The Cruisers came out early in the game and looked determined to get back on track. James continuously drove the ball, collapsing the defense and either making the lay-up, or finding an open teammate for a shot. Chris, Koda, and Mackenzie all added huge baskets at big moments to keep the game in check. Zach was able to use his speed to help shut down Rancho’s transition game and Rodolfo and Raejean continued to provide support off the bench. Unfortunately, Ranch proved to be too much and opened a double-digit lead in the 2nd half, never turning back.
The loss eliminated the Cruisers for the cross-over round and the chance to advance to the finals.
In the consolation game, the Cruisers faced San Diego in what turned out to be the most exciting game of the tournament. San Diego came into the tournament ranked 8th in the country but lost squeakers to Denver and Spokane to be eliminated. As the game opened, the teams traded buckets and you could tell the Cruisers were in a battle. San Diego had an advantage in team speed and decided to press. The Cruisers had trouble breaking the press and San Diego was able to extend the lead to 15 points. Finally, the team started realizing that they could match San Diego’s speed and started to break it down. James continued to drive past players for lay-ups and Zach and Chris started setting a wall of picks to break him free. As San Diego started shifting the defense to contain James, Mackenzie and Koda would be free and made San Diego pay. The Cruisers chipped away, slowly and methodically, closing the gap to 2 points within the last 30 seconds. With 15 seconds left, a foul put San Diego on the line shooting two. After missing both, the Cruisers ran the break to perfection, creating two picks and setting James free to run the court.
With only 4 seconds left, James hit a lay-up to tie the game and send it into overtime. In Overtime, the Cruisers continued to use their momentum and energy and take the lead. With 2 minutes left in overtime, James fouled out. Rodolfo stepped up and played huge down low, allowing Koda and Chris to handle the ball. Zach and Mackenzie continued to deny anything that San Diego threw at them and the Cruisers were able to hang on and win by 4.
What an amazing game!
The tournament also included a Jr. All-Star game which matched two athletes from each team, selected by their coaches to play together for a change. For the Cruisers, James and Koda were selected to represent their team. James led all scorrers in his pool during the game, leading his team to an 8 pt. victory.