What better way to start your basketball summer circuit but with Excel Tournaments. On June 11-12, teams from all over Texas came to the Alamo City to battle for the Excel Summer Jump Off crown. The talent on display was like no other.
One of the most impressive performances of the championship series Sunday at Our Lady of the Lake University came from the Greg Buckner Elite group. In their Blue 5th Grade boys championship game against a very tough San Antonio Cobras team, the boys from both the Houston and the Dallas area put on a barrage of skills. While the Cobras were a challenge, the back court tandem of Ty Beston (24 pts) and Ace Buckner (12 pts 10 asst) were flat out amazing. Sharp shooting and pin point passing made them near impossible for the Cobras to defend as they took the special GOLD CUP home.
The Lavender High School girls division came down to two out of town teams. The New Braunfels United girls led by Olivia Esqueda (9 pts) and Aubrey Montoya (7pts) would have their hands full with a very physically talented Laredo United South squad led by the scoring tandem of Lilly Hernandez (18pts) and Kat Mata (19pts). At first what seemed to be an instant classic turned to a Laredo United South route simply off tough physical play as a unit. While the New Braunfels showed signed of brilliance, the United South girls proved on this Sunday they were the more weathered team. Would love to see this rematch later in the summer.
In the Gold Junior Varsity boys Championship we were treated to two teams with extreme athletic talent. The K Town All Stars of Killeen had Texas Hoops Ranked sensation Cortez Ivie while the Texas Riders of Tyler, TX had Gary Lyons, DK Goodson, and a supporting cast boasting of future NCAA D1 Football players. As a basketball fan I was amazed how talented this game was. Truly an exceptional championship game. Ivie would hold it down for the All Stars scoring the game high 26 points but the combination of Goodson’s 15 pts and Lyons 18 points along with strong performances from Breshawn Williams and Tre Allison would make the Texas Riders too much at the end.
The 18 team Silver 8th Grade Division came down to the Austin Juggernauts New Era and Texas Riders fresh off a Junior Varsity championship win just the game before. Austin New Era would shoot the ball lights out with help from Max Smith’s 19 points but like the JV Boys before them, the Tyler boys were a barrage of weapons on both the offensive and defensive ends. Their athletic prowess made it tough for the New Era to get shots off after a first half adjustment and would take home their organizations second championship.
The Orange 6th Grade boys championships came down to two San Antonio powers in the championship in Marcus Soto’s Blue Devils and the Southwest Phenoms. Matthew Soto put on an all out show scoring a Sunday high 28 points. Soto who plays a majority of his circuit minutes with the nationally ranked D1 Shooters out of Dallas loves to get to showcase all the hard work he puts in with his original dad’s team the Blue Devils. The hard work paid off Sunday as the Blue Devils jumped out to a large first half lead. After the SW Phenoms settled down a bit they went on a 24-4 run to start the second half and take the lead led by huge performances from Donovan Graham with 23 points and Josh Rodgers with 14 points. A big part of the huge comeback was the guard play of Donovan Holcombe. His 9 assists and 4 steals helped put his teammates in the right positions to be successful. A late injury to the Phenoms Graham though would prove to be the difference as the Blue Devils took advantage of the Phenoms without their leading scorer to win the championship. Shane Perales and Aidan Gonzales were also huge for the Blue Devils.
In the Amber 9th grade boys division, a very well coached UC Hoops team would have their hands full with a huge Houston Hyperfuse team. Boasting 6’9 Rodrigo Contras and 6’6 L.T. Hutchins, UC Hoops Coach Vanlandingham would need a plan. Early the Hyperfuse seemed to have their way down low and would sprint out to an early lead. But UC Hoops led by Cooper Vanlandingham’s 18 points including 4 long bombs from outside would battle back to tie the game by halftime. With the lead going back and forth in the second half the UC Hoops squad found themselves down by 1 with time running out and numerous attempts to win the game. Unfortunately none of these attempts would be successful and the Hyperfuse would take the GOLD CUP home. Contras’s 12 points and 9 rebounds along with Hutchins 18 points were huge for the boys from Houston.
The Lilac 5th Grade Girls division came down to a battle between the Somerset Hoopstars and the San Antonio Lady Boomers. With plenty of talent on the floor Isabella Rodriguez would control the game with 15 points and 7 assists. Lady Boomers Reese Stephens would also put on a show with her own 14 points. With the Hoopstars second scoring threat in Jazzy Vallado (12 points) the Boomers would not be able to keep pace as the game concluded.
In the Bronze 7th Grade boys division, the Texas CRU Elite squad from Austin found themselves in a familiar spot against the Uvalde Raptors. The CRU Elite team is a constant championship game participant but have come up short in this game twice in the past two Regional Championships. They came in with a chip on their shoulder to prove the are championship quality. Led by Jaden Williams 21 points and Payton Miller’s 14 points TX CRU Elite looked like they would change their fate. But the Raptors Majik DelaGarza would make it tough with an outstanding 19 point performance. When the dust settled the TX CRU Elite would prove that they not only could win the GOLD CUP but will be a main stay in the 7th grade division this summer.
In the Red 2nd/3rd Grade boys division we would see an all out war. Both the Notre Dame Warriors and the San Antonio Lion Life teams would leave everything on the floor. It was simply amazing to see the extremely young boys play like men. Diving on loose balls and defending like this would be their last game made this championship memorable. With a close game most of the way the Notre Dame Warriors would dig deep and find a way to win the championship at the end.
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS: GREEN 4TH GRADE BOYS CHAMPIONS San Antonio Rebels/RUNNER-UPS Texas Riders, PLATINUM VARSITY BOYS CHAMPIONS (LATE) Houston Hyperfuse/RUNNER-UPS Texas Allegiance, PURPLE 8TH GRADE GIRLS CHAMPIONS Laredo United South/RUNNER-UPS San Antonio Skills Elite.
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