The 16U South Georgia Kings are on a hot streak.
The Kings are 15-3 overall and took first in the second annual Kings Invitational Tournament held April 8-10 at the St. James Sports Center and Faith Baptist Christian Academy.
Eight teams from the surrounding area and two teams from Aiken, S.C., participated in the invitational. It was the second time in a row the Kings took the first-place trophy.
This past weekend, the Kings competed in the AAU State championship at Westlake High School in Atlanta. The team went 3-0 in pool play.
The Kings beat Marietta, 85-42, in the first game. Kirk Hill led the team with 11 points and JJ Frazier scored 10. Derrick Brooks and Diamondt Thomas chipped in nine each, Alton Sapp scored eight, Aaron Scott and Deion Perkins had seven points each, Deshawn Nells scored six points and Jamal Anderson added five points.
The Kings played the Georgia Generation in game two and won, 68-34. In that game, Frazier and Hill scored 11 points apiece, Brooks knocked in 10, Scott had nine, Anderson added five and Sapp and Nells hit four points apiece.
In game three, the Kings beat the Augusta Metros, 64-58. Frazier led with 17 points. Hill and Thomas chipped in nine each while Brooks added eight, Aaron Scott seven and Nells six.
After earning a first-round bye going into bracket play, the boys ended up facing Augusta again, winning 82-62. Frazier led the way with 11 points. Thomas hit nine, Brooks eight and Scott seven. Hill, Perkins and Nells had six each, Anderson and Chris LaRochester hit five each and Sapp added four.
"It was pretty balanced scoring," coach Derrick Brooks said.
In the semifinals, the Kings lost to the Georgia Stars, 68-63, despite getting 23 points from Frazier. Brooks chipped in 11 and Scott nine. Nells and Hill scored six points each while Anderson and LaRochester finished with four points.
The loss placed the Kings into the consolation game against the West Atlanta Warriors. The Kings came out flat after the loss, Brooks said.
"By halftime, we were down 24 points," he said. "We fought through the adversity, and we were able to cut the lead to nine points by the end of the third quarter.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, the game turned into a barn-burner with the Kings tying the score before falling, 80-77.
"There were some crucial plays that did not go in our favor," Brooks said. "But it was tied with 48 seconds left in the game. We turned the ball over, then they hit some free throws, we came back and hit some free throws and it was still a tie game and they had the possession with eight seconds."
The coach said Frazier played extremely well and put a great effort into the tournament. He said all the players picked up their tempos and played excellent basketball during the tournament.
"We had some kids that just came in and really contributed to the team, especially Brandon Bell," Brooks said. "He is one of the hardest-working kids I know and one of the best kids I ever met in my life."
The coach said he has worked with the same groups of kids the past few years and he has seen a remarkable improvement on the court and in the classroom.
"Not only are they developing with their basketball skills, but their social skills are impeccable," he said. "We have some kids that have the potential to be future leaders and all of them currently posses a 3.0 GPA."
The coach said he is extremely thankful to the Liberty County School System and Faith Baptist Christian Academy for allowing the team to use their facilities for practice and offering support to the South Georgia Kings.
"We are also extremely thankful to Kevin Thomas from the Auto Super Center, who donated a 15-passenger van," he said. "That really relieved so much stress because we always had to rent vehicles or parents had to use their vehicles to get the kids back and forth, and it’s such a pleasure and a rewarding experience to have that type of support for these kids."
The coach said his squad even is drawing its own fan base at tournaments.
"When we first started we hardly had a fan base, but now when we are on the road we are being recognized where people from other teams just want to sit and watch us play because they believe we are that good and we do have some exceptional athletes," he said.
The organization continues to grow and will develop a girls’ team open to ages 11 and older through the ninth-grade level.
The Kings will travel to Orlando this weekend for the Disney Easter Classic and will tip off at 2 p.m. Friday.
For more information on the South Georgia Kings, call 980-5006.