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16U Rebels qualify for nationals
The 2009 16U St. James Coastal Crew Rebels finished their first AAU tournament of the season with a bid for the national tournament, which will be played in July in Orlando. - photo by Photo provided.

The goal for the 16U St. James Coastal Crew Rebels was to earn an automatic bid for the AAU National Tournament by making the final four in Friday’s and Saturday’s AAU Super Regional in Macon.

The 16U squad earned the bid, but fell one game shy of winning the entire tournament. They went 3-2 and lost the championship to an Atlanta team, Showtime, by 8 points.

"Our kids played real well this weekend, winning three games in our first tournament," 16U head coach Ernie Walthour said. "We lost Jordan Johnson the night before the final game. He rolled his ankle and was not able to play in the championship game and that really hurt our team."

But Walthour said his squad overcame earlier challenges, getting them the national bid and a 1-point win in the semi-finals.

"We had to make some critical stops against a team from Macon in the
final four and we won 65-64," Walthour said. "It was a big stop at the end of the ball game to win that one. Overall, the kids played well. Shakur Cook played well and Tucory Rhodes gave us a lot of good, quality minutes, as well as the young freshman Melvin King. Our defensive game was real good throughout the tournament. Alex Reid played well for us throughout the whole tournament. We are just real pleased to get the national bid."

Walthour said assistant coaches Benjamin Scott and David Linderman did a great job in preparing the kids for their first tournament.

With the first tournament behind them, Walthour said they are preparing for their next tournament, the invitation-only Boo Williams Nike Tournament in Hampton, Va., April 9-12. More than 600 different teams representing different age brackets are scheduled to appear at the tournament.

"Some of the good work we did last year with standout players like Jimmy Bacon and Justin Boyd opened the door for us to be invited," Walthour said. "This is national attention for our kids."

Walthour said he’s received a lot of calls from different scouting services inquiring about his roster and his players.

"We are trying to get a little bit more size on the roster before we head to Virginia," Walthour said. "We will be adding a 6’6" kid named Jordan Stiles to our roster this weekend. He plays in Savannah but will be joining the Rebels squad."

Walthour thinks Jordan Johnson will be ready to play for the Virginia tournament as well.

The 14U and 17U Rebels squads will debut their AAU season this weekend, heading out to the Super Regional Ice Breaker Tournament in North Augusta.

You can follow their progress by visiting the Rebels’ Web site,

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