Champions Crowned at 2018 U.S. Open Basketball Championships
Ten champions were crowned Sunday at the U.S. Open Basketball Championships at the Pacers Athletic Center in Westfield, Indiana, bringing to a conclusion four days of competition and a very successful inaugural USA Basketball U.S. Open Basketball Championships.
“I think for the first year of the U.S. Open Basketball Championships this was a great success,” said Jim Tooley, CEO of USA Basketball. “We had 72 teams; we played 212 games in like 78 hours; 25 states were represented and there were two teams from Canada, so it was a great first year for us. I’m excited about it and excited for the future of the event.”
During the finals on Sunday, U.S. Open Basketball Championships titles were determined in the boys eighth grade Stars, Stripes and the consolation divisions; girls eighth grade Stars and Stripes divisions; boys and girls 13U Stars and Stripes divisions, and 1boys and girls 12U divisions.
2018 U.S. OPEN BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
8th Grade Boys – Indiana Rise Unstoppable
Indiana Rise was unstoppable in the boys eighth grade Stars Division, rolling to an unblemished 7-0 record and the eighth grade’s top division championship after getting the better of previously undefeated Arkansas Woodz Elite by a 69-58 score. The eighth grade Stars Division gold medal contest was broadcast by CBS Sports Network.
“It was a good team from Arkansas. They were probably one of the better teams in this entire tournament, and they had a strong start,” said Indiana Rise head coach Qdar Owens. “Our team stuck together and talked it over as a group in our timeouts. Those extra commercial timeouts every quarter helped us make the adjustments along the way to come out on top.
“We didn’t get to watch (Woodz Elite) much, but what we did see from layup lines, spots here and there from other games, we knew we wanted to make them uncomfortable. We wanted to get their big in foul trouble, which we executed pretty well. He sat about 80 percent of the game. It kind of got them out the things they are used to doing and that worked in our favor.”
“This was a nice tournament. USA Basketball did a great job of putting this thing together, and I would recommend some more of the top teams in the country to come play. We played some teams we would never see in other tournaments, so it was cool to bring together a lot of different cultures of basketball.”
Mac Irvin Fire (Chicago, Ill.) proved to be resilient in winning the eighth grade Stripes Division title. Entering Stripes bracket play Saturday with a 2-2 record, Mac won its last three games to stake a claim on the gold medals, but it wasn’t easy. First defeating Illinois Predators, it took overtime in the semifinals for Mac Irvin Fire to beat Hoop Avenue Elite 72-68, and in the championship game they slipped past the Maryland Sharks 67-61 to win the division crown.
“We had two kids who lost an uncle last night in a shooting in Chicago, another uncle got shot and their grammar school coach was also shot in a shooting in a park, “ said Mac Irvin Fire coach Marcus Spencer. “So what those kids did today after being up to five o’clock in the morning is phenomenal. I’m really proud of those guys, the team kind of huddled up around them and told them they had their backs and I think they did a great job of coming through.
“It shows the toughness of our inner-city kids and a lot of the things they have to deal with. But to overcome the hurdles and put that stuff in the back of their mind until they get home and deal with the troubles they suffered last night is just incredible. So, I’m just so proud of this group, they did a good job and just stuck together in thick and thin,” added Spencer.
In Saturday’s boys eighth grade consolation championship contest, Primetime Performance (4-3) nipped Untapped Performance 69-68.
8th Grade Girls – AL Southern Starz Class of the Field
The AL Southern Starz (6-0) proved they were the class of the eighth grade girls Stars Division. Entering Sunday’s semifinals undefeated, the Starz rolled past DFW Future 68-60 in the semifinals, then finished things off with a 76-60 victory over New Mexico Elite in a game also streamed live on CBS Sports Network.
“New Mexico (8th grade) was a really good team. Credit to them, and Tree of Hope (13U) who we played earlier,” said Doug Bush, who also coached the Southern Starz 13U girls team to a title. “What got us over the top was us making the commitment to being more disciplined. We took our time. When we did that, when we looked to find open teammates and share the ball, that’s when we got really good looks. We made shots. That’s what put us over the top, being disciplined offensively.”
“First of all, this event was incredible and tremendous,” Bush added. “It was first class from the décor to the management of the event to the media and the organization of the event with teams from all over the country. For our kids to play and compete at this level with teams from all over the country is going to do nothing but make them better and let them see what’s out there in terms of other players and teams, and that is a special opportunity to do that.”
In the girls eighth grade Stripes Division championship game, the Indiana Red Storm got the better of Exodus NYC 68-58 to claim the championship.
“Well we started off pretty rough, but then I think the girls came through the last two days and really started playing our kind of basketball,” said Craig Eubanks, head coach of the Red Storm. “We call it Red Storm basketball, it’s kind of physical, intense on defense and just trusting each other. This was fun, I felt like it was a pretty good environment. The kids had a great time, they loved the t-shirts.”
13U Boys – Wichita Select Take The Title
The U.S. Open Basketball Championships 13U Stars Division was claimed by Wichita Select 2023. Compiling a 6-0 record, Wichita Select claimed the gold medals after bettering Texas Elite Got Skills (4-2) 67-52.
“We had a physical schedule all year. We played the blue chips. We’ve seen phenomenal talent. It has prepared us to stay together. With our season winding down, we just always finished really strong. They never give up,” said Wichita Select head coach Jaray Mathews. “One thing that helps is we’ve been together since fourth grade, and we practice every day. All these boys are from Wichita, Kansas. This tournament helped a lot because it was all dads. The moms of our players didn’t come, so that challenged us. Some of the dads took it upon them to not be outworked, so just having all the dads and seven boys who have been with me since fourth grade – it all just gelled.
“They loved this so much. Will Anciaux, our big boy – his lanyard, by him just putting on that lanyard, he thought he was a top 10 recruit in the country. He just felt so special with that on. And this event, it was amazing. In Wichita, we have a gym with 12 courts, but it’s not like this. This is an amazing experience, and I think the boys loved it. They took it as a challenge, and I challenged them. If you want to be seen, you have to win.”
The championship of the Stripe Division for the 13U boys saw Swish Basketball Chicago defeat Primetime Performance 52-43.
“Oh man, the first day was a rough day for us and we had to show perseverance and I guess that’s been our character all year round since I had this group of kids is they battle back from adversity and when their back is against the wall they come out fighting,” said Swish head mentor Kyle White.
“That’s what they did today. We were down I believe 14 at one point and it looked grim, but I told them ‘your energy and sticking together, that energy can turn this game around,’ and it did. I’m just proud of my boys, proud to represent Chicago and Swish Basketball.”
13U Girls - AL Southern Starz Rolls To Title
The AL Southern Starz 2023 (6-0) kept their record clean and won the U.S. Open Basketball Championships 13U Stars Division by beating a determined Tree of Hope squad 50-44.
“It’s unbelievable. It really is,” said Bush of his 13U team winning it all. “Both teams got behind, and both teams fought their way back and started playing the way we needed to play – that’s playing hard and sharing the ball, looking for teammates. It’s a joy to watch when that happens.
“The girls’ toughness and their experience helped them. They have played in big games and been behind, so playing in those helped them and didn’t allow this to rattle them. They kept their composure. They were disciplined and made the right decisions down the stretch. We made free throws and took care of the basketball, and that’s what won the game for us.”
In the girls 13U Stripes Division, Wisconsin Shooters finished strong and bested Katy Rebels 2023 by a score of 49-32 to take the title.
“The production of this tournament was amazing. The girls got a bunch of Nike gear. They were able to see tons of players from around the country, and for them, that’s not an experience that can be met anywhere else,”Wisconsin Shooters head coach Lisa Krohnsaid.
“It was awesome to represent Wisconsin. We’ve been a team for about five years. We started and worked really hard with the girls. We’ve seen so many teams from our state like us, so we know that Wisconsin is a great basketball state. There are hundreds and hundreds of girls there playing basketball, so we loved representing them here this weekend.”
12U Boys – Mississippi's MBA Hoops Take the Title
Wrapping things up with a spotless record, MBA Hoops from Mississippi took down D School Elite from Washington D.C. by a 52-45 tally in the 12U championship game.
“This team right here means more than anything to me,” said Christopher Ellis, MBA Hoops coach. “First of all I want to give honor to God for allowing us to be here, to make it all the way from Jackson, Mississippi, and travel eight-and a half hours. These guys gave me everything they had all weekend, I asked them to just play hard, leave it all on the floor, win or lose.
“I dedicate this win to my father (Cleveland Ellis), he passed of prostate cancer three years ago and it’s just how God works in miraculous ways. It’s three years from this date that he died and so I give my honor to God and I give it all to these kids because I told him to do it remembrance of him and they did that and for that we’re Team USA all day, every day.”
Illinois Predators Elite defeated Bakerhoops All-Stars 63-61 Saturday afternoon in the third-place boys 12U game.
12U Girls – New Mexico Dogs Complete Gold Medal Journey
The New Mexico Dogs went undefeated in claiming the U.S. Open Basketball Championships 12U championship and were dominating in doing so. The Dogs had no problem upending Indiana Girls Basketball Holman by a score of 59-29 in the gold medal contest.
“We worked very, very hard to get here, “ said New Mexico Dogs head coach Melissa Trujillo-Sisneros. “We tried to play seven days a week in the gym and then we were fundraising the other part of that time to get here, so this really means a lot to us. It was a long ways for us.”
“I think there was a really positive energy here. You saw it from the coaches and the fans. It was a really nicely run tournament for us to be a part of.”
“We saw a lot of pressure. Teams brought good pressure, and we don’t see that a lot with teams we play in New Mexico and out and about in the west. We have traveled before, but never this far east.”
Colorado Springs Blue claimed third place by edging Playmaker Academy Pumas 44-37.
2018 U.S. Open Basketball Championships
The 2018 U.S. Open Basketball Championships are a USA Basketball youth initiative that is intended to add opportunity, standards and quality to the youth basketball environment. Competition consisted of six groups of play: eighth grade boys, eighth grade girls, 13 and under boys, 13 and under girls, 12 and under boys and 12 and under girls.
Offered through USA Basketball’s Youth Development division, the U.S. Open Basketball Championships is an inclusive tournament structure in which existing basketball tournaments meeting USA Basketball approved youth development standards qualified teams for the 2018 U.S. Open Basketball Championships.
In addition to following established development standards, and using modified international rule, the U.S. Open Basketball Championships requires all coaches to possess a valid USA Basketball Coach License.