The “Elites” capture invite to the D-1 Nationals
Many of the top Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) girls basketball organizations competed last weekend in the Team Sol Super Regional Tournament held at the Sports Complex in Maryland. All of the teams started the weekend with a common mission—to secure an invitation to this year’s Division I National tournament. Local powerhouse teams such as the Maryland Lady Shooting Stars, Team Sol, and the Maryland Flames were on hand to display their much heralded talents.
The Shooting Stars’ “Super Sophs” and “gold” were fabulous the entire weekend. Both teams hustled and showed discipline. The girls executed their high potent offenses and instituted pressure defenses to control each game. In their journey to the championship, the “Super Sophs” exacted revenge on the Owings Mill Lady Tigers with a 20-point victory to advance to the semi-finals to face the tournament favorites, Maryland Flames. The Lady Tigers defeated the Stars last year in the Maryland District Qualifying Tournament (DQT) but on this day, they were no match. The “Fantastic Freshman” or “gold” was paired against a Columbia Ravens team that was formed and trained with the primary goal to defeat the Shooting Stars 14U. The Ravens took an early 6-point lead and things seems to be going their way. However, after the adrenaline wore off their feathers were plucked as the “Gold” rallied to a lopsided victory to advance to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals between the “Super Sophs” and Flames played out exactly how the Shooting Stars had envisioned. The Stars pressure defense and transition offense were too much as the “Super Sophs” stunned the Flames and many of the spectators. Still, many of the observers continued to cast doubts about the Stars 15U and their ability to compete with either the 15U Lady Terps or Lady Mustangs. Across the gym on another court, the Shooting Stars “gold” lived up to their expectation with precision on offense and a smothering defense against the Maryland Storm. The Stars contested every shot and ran down each loose ball. The results landed them another lopsided victory and advanced them to the Championship game to play the #5 ranked team in the nation and last year’s champions, Maryland Flames.
Both of the Stars “elite” teams entered the championship as the underdog. The “Super Sophs” had the daunting task of playing the Lady Mustangs who were riding high after demolishing the very talented Lady Terps. Early in the game, the Mustangs heated up from outside the arc to take a commanding lead into the half. However, as reflected by their coach’s personality, the “Super Sophs” cut the deficit with poise, discipline, and moxie. With a few minutes left in the game, the Stars gained their first lead, which they never relinquished to win the highly contested Super Regional Championship. In contrast, the Stars “gold” faced a familiar foe—the 14U Maryland Flames. The two played in the championship last year whereby the Flames won by 2. This game marked the fifth one played between the two with each team winning two of the previous game by very small margins.
The Complex Center was packed with scouts, high school coaches, parents, players, and fans. Many had projected that these two teams would eventually play in the championship after watching the first round of pool play on Friday. As the crowd sat and embraced themselves for what many anticipated would be a nail-biter similar to last year, the “gold” jumped out on the Flames from the beginning to end dazing all that were in attendance. The Flames never led as the Stars simply dominated on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The “gold” extinguished the “Flames” and routed them by 19 points. The loss was so humiliating that the Flames did not partake in the presentation of trophies and awards after the game.
We extend our congratulations to the Maryland Lady Shooting Stars “elites” for an incredible job. In addition, we are ecstatic that they both have secured their D-1 bids for the Nationals. Their hard work and dedication is an example of the commitment needed to be exemplary. Much success goes out to the “Super Sophs” and “Fantastic Freshman” – “gold.”