Seventh-graders bring home the hardware from Reno tourney
June 27, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
A pride of lionesses roared in the desert.
The EBI Lioness team, composed of teenage players from all over the Eastside, earned first place at the Reno Jam On It Championship’s seventh-grade division in Reno, Nev., in May.
The team, part of Amateur Athletic Union competition, “were determined to win it for their coach,” Felicia Johnson, an email from one of the team member’s parents said.
Johnson fainted while at the tourney, so the team had to play on its own the first two games.
“I don’t even remember even having to call a timeout,” Johnson said.
The level of competition was all over the place, Johnson said, but it got tough once the team reached the semifinals.
The Lioness team went 4-0 in the Reno tournament, defeating teams from Nevada and California.
“It’s awesome chemistry,” Johnson said. “It’s probably the best team I’ve coached in a while. It’s a special group — they get along really well on and off the court.”
The team has been playing together for two years, and includes young hoopsters from Mercer Island, Issaquah, Bellevue, Lake Washington and the Snoqualmie Valley school districts, plus a few players from private schools.
“They come together every fall and spring from various greater Eastside locations to play basketball,” team parent Michelle Turner wrote.
Most of the schedule contains out-of-town tournaments in places like Nevada, Oregon and closer locales like Yakima and Spokane.
Johnson said this is the biggest prize in the history of the team.
“It’s actually the world’s largest Memorial Day basketball tournament,” she added, noting that it was the team’s first year at the tourney.
The first weekend in July, the team will play in Oregon City, Ore.
Next year’s schedule reads, “Southern California,” and perhaps more importantly, “Disneyland.”
All the players will return next year, Johnson said.
“So, hopefully we’ll have some good tournaments again,” she said. “It’s not common for teams like this to stay together for as long as they have stayed together, so as a coach you have got to feel good about that.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org.