Bringing together a group of eight sixth graders and a fifth grader from local communities such as Hood River, White Salmon, Mosier, North Bonneville and The Dalles, The Gorge Elite Basketball team captured its fourth tournament championship last weekend in Hood River and qualified for the 500-team state tournament this weekend in Spokane, Wash., but action was halted due to the Coronavirus scare.
At the Columbia Gorge Classic held on Mar. 7-8 in Hood River, Team Elite had five of eight players recovering from illness and went 0-2 in Saturday’s pool play round.
On Sunday, however, they got their legs back and dropped the Wild Boyz, 76-61, in the semifinals and defeated Triple Threat, 48-35, in the finals to secure their fourth championship.
This winter, head coach Brian Stevens put his team through several tough tournaments, six locally and in Portland, including a select National AAU Tournament with teams hailing from New York all the way to the West Coast.
On the squad were Derek Goulart, Reese Kenslow, Deacon Ybarra, Calder Morrison, Hunter Wang, Andrew Westin, Mason Hamilton, David Chavez, and Oliver Stevens.
“The boys were already good individual players with a solid skillset,” coach Stevens said. “My job was to get them to learn how to play with other talent, execute team basketball, communicate, help each other, and to play selflessly and for one another.”
Team Elite won its second tournament on Jan. 12, by defeating Hood River at the Gorge Hoops Invitational and then captured a second straight CGBA Tournament title, The Dalles Winter Classic, their third of the winter, on Feb. 23 at Kurtz Gym, a 63-21 win over Hermiston.
On Dec. 15, Stevens’ group won a 46-43 overtime thriller versus Team Progress to pick up top honors at the HoopSource Portland/Vancouver Tournament.
“As we developed their IQ and basketball acumen, the wins started coming,” coach Stevens said. “I watched them come together faster than expected. Every tournament, we had different lineups and guys giving up minutes in favor of matchups.”
Coach Stevens gave thanks to the players, and his assistants, Danny Ybarra and Randy Goulart, and saluted the parents, Brooke Elizabeth, Trenton Hamilton, Scott Wang, Angie Wang, Holly Andersen-Westin, Monica, Yolanda Castellanos, Becky Hamilton, Tiffany Kenslow and Analene Pentopoulos for their unrelenting support through the 2019-2020 campaign.
“I want to thank Danny for helping me with advice and enhancements, and to Randy Goulart, for helping me with all things basketball-related. Thank you to for all of your support,” Stevens said. “And the parents. I cannot thank you enough for entrusting me with helping take your kids to the next level. I am looking forward to our spring season.”
Team Elite will be back on the court starting in April.