It is one of the most prestigious AAU invitational tournaments and the 16U Coastal Crew Rebels will be there. The squad is headed this weekend to the Suwanee Sports Complex for its third visit to the Bob Gibbons Invitational Classic.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than the Bob Gibbon Invitational as far as tournaments go,” Rebel coach and founder Ernie Walthour said. “He has teams come from all across the United States to compete in Suwanee. All the college coaches will be there. Virginia Tech, BCU and some other schools have already called us to let us know they will be out there looking at the Rebels.”
Walthour said his squad will faces a team he knows nothing about in the first round of pool play at 8 p.m. Friday.
“We have a team that we will play Friday night that is from Kansas,” he said. “It’s going to be the first time we’ve ever played them. We’ve been trying to get some information about them. We know that they have two kids that are 6-foot, 9 and one that is 6-foot, 8. They are much like us where they have kids from a bunch of different local high schools that come together to make their one team. And normally teams like that are elite teams.”
The Rebels are guaranteed to play at least three games and the boys are looking to bring home a trophy.
“I’m hoping to show them that even though we come from a small town in Hinesville we can play ball,” Rebel player Trevon Scott said. “For myself I’m trying to show them that even though I’m a freshman, age doesn’t matter. It’s the way you carry yourself.”
Shooting guard Tevin Womack, a third-year Rebel, said he expects to be able to contribute to the team.
“Offensively, I can create shots and if I am open in the corner I can spot up and shoot it,” he said.
Womack added that the Rebels turned the ball over too many times in the last tournament, and he thinks they can do better.
“We’ve been coming in and trying to tweak our offense a little bit and build that team chemistry,” Walthour said. “We don’t get to practice as much as a team because we have kids that come from Statesboro and McIntosh. The days we do get them all together, we work on getting our different defense changed up and work on our offense as much as we can.”
Walthour said the weekend has to be a total team effort, since his team lacks the 6-foot 9 players other squads have on the inside.
First-year Rebel Freddie McSwain said he plans to work the boards.
“I can grab the rebounds and share the ball with my teammates,” said the 6-foot 4 McSwain. “If we bring our game we can win it.”
The Rebels also have Miguel Pineda to add points.
“I’m a good three-point threat, but I’m also trying to improve my defense,” Pineda said. “It’s a different type of competition. In high school we play the same teams, but at AAU tournaments we get a taste of the teams in Georgia and the neighboring states, and the game is a little bit faster. I’m hoping to come back with the championship.”