Excel Regional Championships 2016 Recap-San Antonio

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The weekend of May 13-15 has always been the home of the Excel Regional Championships.  As the first 2-day event of the Excel Spring/Summer season, it has also challenged Excel’s largest event the State Championships in size.  Being the 4th year for this prestigious event, 250+ teams came from all over Texas and Southern United States proving that the Excel Regionals are still the premier event for this mid May weekend.   That was a given but the amount of talented teams and players playing this weekend was groundbreaking.

To start championship Sunday at Our Lady of the Lake University we had the Green 4th Grade boys division match up of NBA All Star Tracy McGrady’s GR Sports team out of Houston and San Antonio’s own HD Toros.  Coming into the game it looked like the GR Sports size would be too much for the HD Toros but the speed and shooting of the HD Toros proved to be too much early and by the time the dust cleared in the first half the GR Sports boys were own by double digits. In the second half led by Laymond McGrady and Christian Williams the GR Sports settled down and did what they do well.  The HD Toros leader Preston Jones would not take no for an answer as he poured in 15 point with a majority in the second half helping the Toros capture the Regionals championship.

The Blue 5th Grade boys division boasted 16 teams from all over Texas but the championship would come down to two local state powerhouses in Hardwork and San Antonio Fire.  Hardwork has become a national power at all levels and the Fire have been hungry to gain their respect. This would show in the first half as to the capacity crowds surprise the Fire held Hardwork to only 1 point. In the 2nd Half Hardwork came out of their shell but the front line of Kendrick Deluna (17pts 10 reb) and Jaylen Gardner (12pts 6 reb) proved to be too strong for Hardwork.

The Orange 6th Grade boys division started with 21 teams but finished with two Austin rivals in the championship in the ATX Blazers and Texas Shockers.  With all this talent in northern Austin one is to wonder what if these guys ever combined? For now we will settle for epic battles between the two groups. Led by Nehikhare Igiehon the ATX Blazers controlled that paint but solid shooting by the Shocker guards kept them in the game. Ultimately the Shockers would have no answer for Igiehon and the Blazers at the end.

We had an epic battle in the Purple 7th/8th Grade girls division between the San Antonio Lady Stealth and the Sofia Young Elite Gold girls.  Teams have always struggled with the size of Stealth’s front court anchor in Aleesha Orange (19pts 7reb) but Sofia Young’s girls would bring the size in the championship game to look her in the eye.  This would make for a great championship game that would come down to the very end.  Led by Kathryn Price (15 pts) and Imani Hardin (12pts) the Sofia Young Elite battled to the very end.  Orange’s 18 points and Vivan Castro’s 16 points would be too much in the second half.

The Bronze 7th Grade boys division became a rematch of last years 6th Grade Orange Regional Championships between the San Antonio All Stars and Texas Cru Elite in which the All Stars ran away with the contest.  With something to prove Cru Elite led by Jaylen Bedford (17pts) and Jaden Williams (12 pts) would show they have grown as a unit and a force.  Close the entire contest All Stars Orion Campa (23pts) and Andrew Galvan (18pts) would take off late in the second half and create some space between them.

In the Lilac 5th/6th Grade girls division the Laredo Lady Venom came into the championship on fire with demanding victories in pool play and early bracket play. The Somerset Hoopstars would change this momentum in the championship game. The Lady Venom led by Bella Rodriguez (13pts) continued their dominance in the 1st half but the Hoopstars led by MVP Mia Godina (24pts) the Lady Venom saw their lead shrink until finally the Hoopstars took their first lead. After that the momentum carried the Hoopstars into a championship.

The Red 3rd Grade boys division was stacked with power house teams such as Alamo Hoop Squad (5 Excel Championships), Laredo Rampage (2 championships), San Antonio Grizzlies (2 Championships), San Antonio Blue Devils (11 Championships), Somerset Bulldogs (6 Championships), and many other teams working for a taste of a Excel Championship. In Pool play Houston GR Sports beat everybody but when bracket play started on Sunday everything started over.  Going into the bracket GR Sports looked like the team to beat but two teams with losses would be the better teams on Sunday with the Laredo Rampage and San Antonio Grizzlies surviving to battle it out in the championship.  Led by Isaac Castillo (9pts) and Enrique Torrez (8 Pts) the Grizzlies would overcome an early Laredo Rampage lead to win the championship.

The 28 team Silver 8th Grade boys division came down to San Antonio Blue Devils Palma and the Texas Warriors Black team from Austin.  A rematch of  Saturday ‘s pool play match up in which the Blue Devils won, the championship would be a different game.  The overall size of the TX Warriors played a major role in the first half as they were able to hold a slight lead at half time. In the second half the same size seemed to wear on the undersized Blue Devils and the Warriors would run away with the championship.

OTHER REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS: CRIMSON 2ND GRADE BOYS CHAMPIONS San Antonio Fire/RUNNER-UPS San Antonio Blue Devils, GOLD JV BOYS CHAMPIONS San Antonio Flight/ RUNNER-UPS Austin Wildcats Black, ROSE JV GIRLS CHAMPIONS Sofia Young Elite/RUNNER-UPS Killeen Lady Assassins.

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