The AAU basketball season is just getting started, and the 15U Coastal Crew Rebels set the bar high by coming home from their first tournament hoisting the championship trophy.
The Rebels went 4-1 to earn the first-place trophy at the Tip-Off Sports Basketball Association’s March Madness Classic Tournament held March 26-27 in Suwanee.
According to coach Ernie Walthour, the tournament featured top-notch teams like the Georgia All-Stars, Purple Knights, The Gladiators, Atlanta Xpress, The Blazers and Team Strike Force.
“Anytime you see the Georgia Stars on a tournament schedule, you know you are playing against some good kids that play all the time,” Walthour said. “And we want to challenge our team to go out and play kids they never played against before because that is what is going to make them better for when we get to the national tournament in July.”
The Rebels lost game one against the All-Stars but came back strong on day two, winning all three games.
“We ended up playing three games on Sunday, and these kids left everything on the floor in order to win the championship,” Walthour said. “It was a team effort. We took 11 players and everybody played, and it took all 11 to win this tournament. They worked hard with barely 10-minute breaks between games, and these kids grinded it out and got to the championship.”
Walthour said the squad looked tight and polished on the floor and that three players in particular — Jamoris Hill, Trevon Scott and Herbert Roberts — carried the team in critical times.
Hill, a 5-foot, 8-inch point guard who also played for Bradwell Institute, said he went into the tournament with the intent to have some fun and bring home the trophy.
“I think I left it all out on the floor,” Hill said. “I think it was our defense. As long as we executed our defense, it made it easier for our offense.”
Hill, who was born and raised in Florida, said he wants to shine this AAU season and hopes to be recruited by the University of Florida when it’s time to go to the next level.
Herbert Roberts, the Rebels’ small forward, said the team went out and played the best they could.
“We played the defense that our coach wanted us to,” he said. “We went out there and we did what we learned in practice. We play hard and play good defense.”
Roberts said he, too, would like to be a Gator because of the coaching staff and great players.
Trevon Scott, the squad’s power forward, said he is working hard and aspires to be recruited by Duke.
He said winning the trophy after losing the first game was a great feeling.
“I was thinking of playing as a team and we played together and won,” he said. “It feels good because it lets us know what kind of a team we have. We played three games in one day and never gave up. It lets people know what kind of team we have.”
These are the kids that played most of the minutes for us,” Walthour said of the trio. “Herbert Roberts was really our overall MVP. I think Hill is one of the best defenders of his age in the state. He really gets after you with his defense.”
Walthour said the boys played to honor longtime supporter Linda Shumm.
Shumm is the youth support person at Fort Stewart, and Walthour said she has devoted much of her time to the local players and the Rebels’ organization since 1993.
He said M&M Motors sponsored the recent trip to Suwanee.
The 15U Rebels are scheduled to play in North Carolina at the Bob Gibbons Invitational and at the Easter Classic in Orlando.
But first, they plan to showcase their talents for a few college scouts April 19 at the St. James Sports Center.
“We do have Virginia Tech and Florida State coming in on the 19th, and these three kids (Hill, Scott and Roberts)will have the opportunity to play in front of the coaches,” Walthour said. “We are trying to get their names out there for recruiting purposes.”
Scott will get an opportunity to tour Duke when the Rebels go to North Carolina from May 27-30.