Orlando attracts millions of tourists every year with its theme parks and other destinations.
A few more groups of youngsters will make the summertime trip to central Florida, but it’s both business and fun for the clubs advancing in the 2019 Jr. NBA Global Championship.
Regional Champions from the Mid-Atlantic and South joined winners from the Central, who advanced through tournaments May 10-12; and the Midwest, held May 31-June 2.
With half of the U.S. Regionals now complete, the field for Orlando and the Global Championship is taking shape. Representatives from eight International Regions join the fray Aug. 6-11 in the Sunshine State.
District Heights, Maryland, belonged to the Quality Warriors. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Boys champions won two pool-play games by a combined 143 points, then continued their dominance in the tournament.
No opponent played the Quality Warriors any closer than a 18-point margin, including defending Regional champion Slam City. The new champs won the June 9 title game, 71-50, behind 13 points, six rebounds and three assists from Amani Hansberry.
Hansberry led all scorers for the weekend with 103 points. He also posted the second-most rebounds on the weekend with 41. David King’s 45 in four games for Nova Suns Elite led all players.
The Quality Warriors knocked off Slam City with the same strategy it used through their first five wins, turning stifling defense into transition points and a big lead before intermission.
“From the beginning of the tournament, that was the thing: to start early,” Quality Warriors coach Ray Brewer said via the Jr. NBA on Twitter.
Jeremiah Quigley of the Quality Warriors dished out 19 assists for the tournament, second only to Kaleb Brown of Slam City, who had 23. Cameron Gillus, Darren Harris and Colin Reynolds also finished in the top 18 among all Mid-Atlantic Regional participants for assists, a testament to the champion’s exemplary movement.
“The credit goes to those nine guys who were able to come from their respective AAU programs, come together, and represent that area,” Brewer said. “We’re going to try to go back down there [to Orlando] and finish the deal.”
Mid-Atlantic Regional Girls champions the Maryland Belles cruised in a fashion similar to the Quality Warriors on the Boys’ side of the bracket up to Sunday’s title game. The Maryland Belles held opponents in pool play to 17 and 36 points in a pair of resounding wins, then put on another two defensive clinics in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
The Maryland Belles beat DC Premier, 59-18, and Lady Red, 54-21.
It wasn’t until the championship game against GTS Fusion that an opponent cracked 40, and the finale was a competitive one. The Maryland Belles advanced to Orlando, 50-42, on the strength of Jadyn Donovan’s 20-point, 9-rebound, 3-assist performance.
“Pure joy,” is how coach Talen Watson described winning the Mid-Atlantic Regional and advancing to Orlando, via Jr. NBA. “They’ll be excited to go against different girls from around the world.”
Donovan’s outstanding championship game capped a weekend in which she scored the Regional’s second-most points, 75. Donovan edged GTS Fusion’s Delaney Thomas, who notched a 12.5 point, 5.7 rebound per game tournament to help her team to the final.
Kiyomi McMiller of Philadelphia Belles led all players in the Mid-Atlantic with 85 points. Maryland Belle Kendall Dudley grabbed 39 rebounds to set the Regional high.
The road to Orlando from Dallas started at home for South Regional Boys champion Drive Nation.
Playing at its “home” venue, Drive Nation concluded an impressive Regional in a thrilling, 70-65 win over Houston Hoops Blue Chips. Guard Payton Chism went 14-of-15 from the free-throw line en route to 20 points for Drive Nation, and Ronald Holland II added nine points with 14 rebounds. Holland also delivered a highlight-reel blocked shot that turned into a game-tying transition bucket in the fourth quarter.
Ty Cox’s clutch 3-pointer added to his 12 points and Player of the Game honors. Robert Jones, whose 84 points for the weekend led Drive Nation, also delivered some key buckets down the stretch.
Wesley Yates III also hit 84 points on the tournament to lead the runners-up. Yates and his Houston Hoops Blue Chips teammates advanced to the final on the strength of an 86-51 route of
Team FOE National, last year’s South Regional winner.
In the Girls bracket, the Cy-Fair Elite Evans duo of D’Asia Thomas and Gisella Maul powered a dominant showing en route to the championship.
CFE Evans won its quarterfinal matchup with Lady Drive Nation by 39 points; the semifinal showdown against San Antonio Lady Hoops by 46; and used a 20-10 fourth quarter to hold off Nike Cy-Fair Elite Coop in the title round, 66-52.
“The experience here was just amazing,” CFE Evans coach Norman Gilmore told Jr. NBA. “The competition we came across really pushed our limits.”
The tandem of Thomas and Maul were the Regional’s second-and-third-leading scorers, respectively, and Maul shined with 20 points and eight rebounds in the championship. CFE Evans did its best defensively against Nike Cy-Fair’s Caya Smith, the tournament’s leading scorer at 15 points. She scored nine in the championship.