Champions Crowned At 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournaments
The 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournaments concluded on Sunday at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Takeover (7-0) remained undefeated to claim the women’s gold medal, while Ballerz (6-2) rebounded from a pair of losses in preliminary play to capture the men’s gold medal.
Takeover’s Megan Walker (Monacan H.S./Chesterfield, Va.) and LaMarcus Freeman (Harker Heights H.S./Killeen, Texas) from Ballerz earned MVP honors in their respective tournament.
“At the last second, we were kind of slow and I knew we had to score, so I took it upon myself to get us going,” said Walker on winning MVP honors.
“It really feels good to win,” said Freeman. “We were a small team, I feel like we were an underdog, but we came in and did what we had to do to get the gold. To earn this MVP honor, I feel like I did the dirty work. I was hustling, getting loose balls, helping my team out in all the right ways and we came out and got the win.”
Also on the roster for Takeover were Jaelyn Brown (Vista Murrieta H.S./Murrieta, Calif.); Sidney Cooks (St. Joseph Catholic Academy/Kenosha, Wis.); and Amber Ramirez (Karen Wagner H.S./San Antonio, Texas). By virtue of winning the USA Basketball 3x3 U18 tournament, the four members of Takover qualified to represent USA Basketball at the 2016 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship, which will be played June 1-5 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
“It means a lot for me,” said Walker on being named to the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U18 World Championship Team. “It’s always been a dream of mine to represent USA Basketball, and now it’s finally coming true.”
Entering the medal round unbeaten, Takeover defeated Elite (0-3) 21-9 in the quarterfinals, knocked out Mambas (3-2) 21-12 in the semifinals and trailed early before defeating Shock (4-2) 21-16 in the gold medal game.
“There was about three minutes left, and we all just kind of looked at each other like, ‘It’s go time,’” said Walker on her team’s comeback in the gold medal game. “We wanted to win this tournament, and we wanted to travel to Kazakhstan.”
In addition to Freeman, the Ballerz roster featured Michael Kirkland (Autin H.S./El Paso, Texas); Zach Mucha (Silva Health Magnet School/El Paso, Texas); and Mica Ward (Chapin H.S./El Paso, Texas).
Ballerz finished preliminary play with a 3-2 record, but came back strong in the medal round.
“We went back to the room (last night), talked about it, talked about our mistakes,” said Freeman on his team’s adjustments for the medal round. “We weren’t boxing out. We weren’t hustling. We were missing jump shots. We new we had to come in today focused, and we got the job done.”
Defeating Scorpions (2-4) 21-7 in the quarterfinals and upsetting Snipers (6-1) 21-15 in the semifinals, Ballerz went toe-to-toe with previously undefeated Pluto (7-1) in an exciting final game that went down to the wire. After a flurry of back and forth action and trailing 20-19, Ward knocked down a 2-pointer to clinch the victory for his squad.
“I was just trying to put points up for my team at the time,” said Ward on his final bucket. “I was just thinking that I had to do something, we were down right now. I was thinking that if I put this in, hopefully we’ll win it. I didn’t realize it was the game winner until everybody was going crazy. I’m still kind of shocked about it.”
This weekend’s events also included a skills challenge, a partner hot shot contest and a 3-point shootout.
From the men’s field, Freeman won the gold medal in the skills challenge, Pluto’s Dalen Jackson (Mesa Ridge H.S./Colorado Springs, Colo.) took silver and Hoopla’s Jack Roche (Wilsonville H.S./ Wilsonville, Ore.) earned bronze.
From the Eagles team, Francisco Escobedo (Sandra Day O'Connor H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) and Joe Sajkowski (Sandra Day O'Connor H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) finished with the gold medal in the partner hot shot competition, Hoopla’s Dylan Jordan (Wilsonville H.S./Wilsonville, Ore.) and Teagan Quitoriano (Sprague H.S./Salem, Ore.) won the silver and Club Zum’s Nicholas Macarchuk (De La Salle H.S./Alamo, Calif.) and Jordan Ratinho (De La Salle H.S./Livermore, Calif.) took bronze.
In the 3-point shootout, Hard 2 Guard’s Derrick Prout (East Lake H.S./Palm Harbor, Fla.) shot his way to gold, Chase Hettinger (Castle View H.S./Castle Rock, Colo.) from Grind Time Hoops won the silver medal and Hoopla’s Zach Reichle (Wilsonville H.S./Wilsonville, Ore.) took home bronze.
In the women’s skills challenge, Takeover’s Walker won the gold medal, Myah Taylor (Olive Branch H.S./Olive Branch, Miss.) from Southern Starz earned silver and Kennede Brown (Grandview H.S./Aurora, Colo.) from Mambas earned the bronze medal.
For the partner hot shot contest, Elite’s Nailah Beyah-Blount (Franklin H.S./El Paso, Texas) and Meleah Morgan (Andress H.S./El Paso, Texas) teamed up for gold, Takeover’s Brown and Cooks earned silver and Domination’s Blaire Braxton (Highlands Ranch H.S./Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Symone Starks (Highlands Ranch H.S./Aurora, Colo.) collected the bronze medal.
Elite’s Dixie Lainhart (Franklin H.S./El Paso, Texas) won the 3-point shootout gold medal, Allyah Marlett (Grandview H.S./Aurora, Colo.) from Mambas finished with the silver and Hoopla’s Gabriella Bruno (Lake Oswego H.S./Lake Oswego, Ore.) earned the bronze.
A total of 12 men’s and eight women’s 3x3 U18 teams from across the country competed in the April 30-May 1 tournament, which has been held annually since 2012.
Under FIBA’s 3x3 rules, each game consists of one 10-minute period. The team leading after completion of regular playing time, or the first team to score 21 points is declared the winner. If the game ends in a tie, the first team to score two points in overtime earns the victory. Shots made outside the arc are awarded two points, shots made inside the arc are awarded one point and each made free throw is worth one point. Additionally, a 12-second shot clock is utilized.
FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship
The 2016 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship is expected to feature 20 men’s and 20 women’s teams from around the globe. The USA Basketball women qualified by virtue of FIBA’s world rankings.
The FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship has been held on an annual basis since 2011, except the years of the Summer Youth Olympic Games (2010, 2014). In addition to the men’s and women’s 3x3 tournaments, which are expected to feature 20 teams each, included in the 2016 3x3 U18 World Championship program will be skills contests, giving athletes chances to win additional medals.
The USA women’s 3x3 U18 teams have compiled a 49-6 overall record and captured gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and the 2012 and 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships; silver at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship; and bronze medals at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and 2011 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.