The St. James 16U Coastal Crew Rebels took a bite out of the Big Apple earlier this month, making the final four of the King of the Rock Tournament held May 18-20.
It was the first time the Rebels visited New York, and the boys displayed their hoop skills by defeating the host team, the NY Gauchos, in the quarterfinal game.
To get to the quarterfinals, the Rebels beat the West Knights, 62-50, in game one; Positive Direction, 66-61, in game two; and Raising Champions, 83-74. That set up the big game against the hometown Gauchos, which the Rebels won, 59-53.
“That game went down to the wire,” Rebels coach Ernie Walthour said. “It went back and forth, but we were able to make some big shots late in the game. We knocked them off, keeping them from making the final four.”
The win wasn’t the first for the Rebels over the big-city AAU team.
“This is the second time we beat the Gauchos,” Walthour said. “We beat them when we were in Orlando last year, and that is when they invited us to the tournament.”
But the challenge and intensity of the game against the Gauchos might have been the Rebels’ downfall when they faced Team Watson in the semifinals.
“I think our energy level was not there to be able to compete in that game against Team Watson,” Walthour said. “The boys exerted a lot of energy in the game against the Gauchos.”
Walthour said Team Watson had guards who played extremely well.
“We did everything we could to try and contain them. In fact, the game was tied late but then they cracked it open with eight minutes left in the game,” Walthour said. “I give them credit. They played a great game.”
The 16U Rebels were the only team from Georgia invited to the tournament. Walthour said he was proud of the way his team represented Hinesville and Liberty County.
Jamorris Hill, Domonique Kirkley, Trevon Scott, Tevin Womack and Zaquavian Smith played exceptionally well throughout the whole tournament, Walthour said.
“New York had some quality teams, and it felt real good to go 4-1 and make the final four,” he said.
It was the Rebels’ first visit to New York. Walthour said the team caught a Yankees game at their newly remodeled stadium and toured the team’s baseball museum.
The boys also visited Times Square.
“The kids were just fascinated being there,” Walthour said.
Walthour said he was grateful for those who gave his team the opportunity to travel to New York including Liberty Chrysler, Larry Mannion of M&M Motors, Melissa Ray of State Farm Insurance, LCSO Sheriff Steve Sikes, Osteen and Osteen Law Firm, Linda Shumn, Liberty Bonding Company, St. James Church, Jerry Kicklighter and Mike Brown.
CC Rebels 62, West Knights 50
CC Rebels 66, Positive Direction 61
CC Rebels 83, Raising Champions 74
CC Rebels 59, NY Gauchos 53
Team Watson 75, CC Rebels 60