September means a lot of things for the basketball community. Kids are transitioning into new grades and schools. The Excel Back 2 School Invitational has always been the event in which teams also transitioned into new divisions. Going on our 5th year as Excel Tournaments its hard to believe that teams that started at the elementary level our now starting High School. While our teams have been growing in front of our own eyes so has the Back 2 School Invitational bringing teams from Alaska, San Angelo, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Laredo, and Austin to the Alamo City to compete against the best San Antonio has to offer.
The highlight of a very competitive Saturday came in the Lavender JV girls division. San Antonio was excited to welcome the girls from Point Hope, Alaska who actually live closer to Russia than the United States. With the division loaded with talent including the San Antonio Stealth, San Antonio Lady Toros, San Antonio Lady Vipers, San Antonio Lady Outlaws, and San Antonio Wolverines the Alaskan Too Driven/Tikigap girls would have their hands full. Struggling early the Alaskan girls would fall to Stealth and Lady Vipers but rebound to beat the Outlaws in their last game. The overall warmth and sportsmanship all of our San Antonio ladies showed to our guests was amazing. The San Antonio Outlaws exchanged pins with the Point Hope girls and were so excited to learn about the girls from up north. The division would come down to the Lady Toros and the Stealth with the Lady Toros edging it out for the championship.
In Saturday’s Gold JV Boys Division teams from all over Texas would battle for the crown. Epic battles included the Dallas Red Warriors and San Angelo Outlaws, San Antonio Dreamteam and Houston Lamar Elite but the championship would be a rematch of a summer instant classic between the San Antonio Falcons and Houston Lamar Elite. In the Summer Jamboree Gold Championship in July, Lamar Elite ran away with the title but the Falcons who have won 7 of their 10 divisions since March were up for the challenge. From the beginning you could tell that this would be a different championship with the Falcons taking the early lead. As the game got late the size and athletic ability of Lamar Elite would prove once again to be too much for the Falcons as the boys of Houston would take another. Look for this rivalry to continue in the upcoming year.
In the Bronze 7th Grade Boys Division the championship would come down to an almost unbeatable Laredo Evolution team who has been playing together for six years and a brand new squad in the San Antonio Crew. With the game close the entire way the Crew showed how much they have improved since August and was able to capture their first Excel Cup in a close championship victory. The Crew’s Jack Greenwood would lead all players with 16 points.
The Platinum Varsity boys Division came down to the San Angelo Outlaws and San Antonio Fundamentals coached by IWC and Marshall grad Pierce Caldwell. While the Fundamentals had strong performances from Uvalde stars Dillon Bellino and Major Meuster, the Outlaws led by Isaiah English’s 23 points would keep it close to even. The game would come down to a layup from English to capture the victory.
Sunday would bring the most competitive division of the event in the Silver 8th Grade Division. In the first game of the division the Dallas Red Warriors and the San Antonio Dreamteam would give us an instant classic. The Dreamteam found themselves up by 18 point at the beginning of the second half but would not be able to respond to a 26-8 run to close the half for the Red Warriors forcing overtime. In overtime they would hand a very tough Dreamteam their first loss. The Dreamteam could have fell apart after the heartbreaking loss but instead went on to win their last two games including a tough win against the Dream Loudly Boomers in their last game. The Dream Loudly Boomers would surprise the Dallas Red Warriors in their second game and when the dust settled the Dreamteam took home the championship lead by Evaunte Freeman’s 18.3 PPG. The Dream Loudly Boomers would capture second.
The San Antonio Rebels would test their talent Sunday in both the Orange 6th Grade boys and Blue 5th Grade boys divisions. The Rebels have long been a dominate force in their division but in the 6th Grade division they struggled a bit. While still competitive they found themselves outside the championship. The Orange 6th Grade Championship would come down to the San Antonio Grizzlies who beat a tough San Antonio Blue Devils lead by Matthew Soto in their Semi Finals and the Dream Loudly Boomers. The Boomers led by the steady Joshua Devora would outlast the Grizzlies in the championship. In the Blue 5th Grade Division later in the evening the Rebels would be back in form as they dominated the field and took home yet another championship led by Charlie Georgelos’s 16.7 PPG.
The Lilac 6th/7th Grade Girls Division brought teams from San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Austin. While the Somerset Hoopstars have dominated the division in the past but they would have their hands full with the Corpus Christi Triple Threat, Austin Lady Aztecs, and San Antonio Lady Hoops. The Lady Hoops and Triple Threat being a year younger than the Hoopstars and Lady Aztecs had no fear and competed with the some times bigger opponents. All four teams would leave with at least one victory but the Somerset Hoopstars would come away with the championship and the Lady Hoops would be the runner-ups.
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS: RED 3RD GRADE BOYS CHAMPIONS Notre Dame Warriors/RUNNER-UPS San Antonio Spartans, AMBER 9TH GRADE BOYS CHAMPIONS St George Episcopal/RUNNER-UPS San Antonio Team Warriors.
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