Ahead of the third annual The Dalles Winter Classic scheduled for Feb. 23-24, the Columbia Gorge Basketball Academy is riding a stretch of successful opening finishes at last month’s Gorge Hoops Invitational.
Of the six CGBA squads to hit the hardwood on Jan. 12-13, the sixth and eighth graders picked up first place honors, the fourth grade boys and sixth grade girls were runner-up winners and the fifth and seventh grade boys claimed third place.
Added to those local outcomes, the South Wasco County fifth graders, The Dalles Elite third and fourth graders and the Northwest Hoopers eighth-grade squad, which has players from Dufur, Sherman and Goldendale, each scored a second-place tourney run.
From his initial vision to now, CGBA president Greg Cummings is seeing growth from the local athletes.
“When we first started CGBA six years ago, we had to compete in grade levels down from where we were,” Cummings said. “Now, teams are playing in their own divisions and some teams are playing in the gold divisions. It’s fun to see basketball in The Dalles improve. I knew it would happen, but it’s always fun to see the fruit of your labor come together.”
Hermiston dominated the fourth-grade division, beating TD Elite, coached by Brian Stevens, by a 40-25 margin in the title game. CGBA locked down third place.
The Hood River Flames defeated South Wasco County, 39-30, to capture a fifth-grade championship.
On the sixth-grade side, the CGBA boys secured top billing with a 46-20 victory over the CGBA sixth-grade girls, who posted a 3-1 record in four contests, while playing against boys.
The CGBA eighth graders posted a perfect 4-0 record that weekend, capping a perfect weekend by inching past the NW Hoopers in a triple overtime thriller, 51-50.
The seventh-grade CGBA squad went 3-1 and the seventh-grade prep group ended up 0-4 in their first tourney.
Cummings commended the CGBA coaches, Ben Donivan, David Ortega, Corey Case, Mike Cates, Andrew Voodre, Ken Brock, Phil Hukari, Lindsay Brock and Samantha Newby for their efforts.
“Our coaches put in countless hours of hard, dedicated work,” Cummings said. “Basketball season can be a grind because it’s very labor-intensive and very long. These volunteers deserve a huge shout out and thanks.”
The stakes are raised to a higher level this time around, as the Feb. 23-24 Winter Classic features 33 teams, ranging from fourth-through-eighth grades.
Pool play starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at The Dalles Middle School, and action starts at 8 a.m. Sunday for bracket games at TDMS, Kurtz Gym and possibly Dufur.
On Saturday, each team will play two pool play games and double elimination bracket play is on Sunday.
All schedules are on www.tourneymachine.com.
For more information or to volunteer, call 541-980-5978.