Washington area age-group basketball teams are again expected to do well in national competition in the coming weeks.
Area teams won five titles last summer in national age-group tournaments,
Three of those titles were won in AAU competition by teams that reached the nationals by finishing either first or second in regional Potomac Valley tournaments. The other two national titles were won in the United States Youth Games competition.
In AAU, Potomac Valley boys teams won national titles in the 11-and-under, 12-and-under and 13-and-under age groups. In the United States Youth Games, area teams won their second consecutive national boys and girls titles in the 15-and-under category.
This year, Washington teams will be vying for 10 national titles, eight in AAU tournaments. Two other AAU teams that qualified for nationals, the Executive III 19-and-under team and the Marlow Heights 17-and-under team, declined their invitations. Executive III stayed home because of a lack of funds and Marlow Heights had too many players with other commitments.
The two Washington U.S. Youth Games entrants won't have to worry about travel money since they will host the games starting Aug. 3. The two defending champions should be heavily favored to win their third straight 15-and-under national titles.
In the boys division, Coach Stanley Parham and assistant Alonzo Holloway picked their 15-member squad (10 players and five alternates) from among 45 youngsters who tried out.
In the girls division, Coach Bertha Bell will rely on three high school players, Kenya Howze (Wilson), Jamila Barber (Newport Prep) and Hope Inyamah (Edmund Burke), to provide leadership on a squad composed mainly of junior high students.
The junior high school players are Paula Allen, Jimelle Elliot, Michelle Gregory, Nadira Ricks, Angela Robinson and Lisa Stover. Barber, at 6 feet 1, and Elliott (5-9) are the two centers on the team, but Bell, who coaches at All Saints, thinks she needs rebounding help.
Three teams (11-, 12-, and 13-and-under) from the Kingman Boys and Girls Club of the District won Potomac Valley regional tournaments to qualify for AAU nationals.
The 11 and 12 nationals are in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 1-9 and the 13 nationals will be part of the AAU Junior Olympics in Syracuse, Aug. 8-15.
The Kingman 12-year-olds finished their regular season 25-0. They averaged 65 points per game and limited opponents to 30 per game in the regional tournament.
"They have the perfect balance," said Ed Hill, who coaches the team along with LaBarry Williams. "They have people who can bang on the inside, people who are good perimeter shooters and a group of guards as good as any in the country."
Jonnie Rowell, Anwar McQueen, Samuel Briggs and Earl Tyson are the mainstays of the squad. Tyson made seven three-pointers during the regionals.
Also representing the Washington area at the 12-and-under AAU nationals will be the Second New St. Paul's Baptist Church. Coached by Wendell Etheridge, St. Paul's has Bryan Jefferson, Edward Hamilton and Robert Robinson as its key players.
The Kingman 13-year-olds are led by Vaughn Jones, a 6-1 center, Duane Simpkins, a two-time AAU all-America, Jamal Colbert and Eric McFarland. They defeated the reigning national champions, Allentown, in the regional final.
Allentown will also go to Syracuse, taking with it nine players from last year's national championship team.
The AAU 14-and-under nationals in Bellevue, Wash., July 25-Aug. 1 will feature two area teams, including the Northern Virginia Hawks, who won national titles as 11- and 13-year-olds.
Among the team members is Grant Hill, son of former Washington Redskins running back Calvin Hill. Also on the squad are Brent Baumbusch, Marcus Butler, Mike Clark, Matt Hain, Andrew Heilsley, Jeff Shearin, Mike Ruppert and Kenny Villareal.
The Prince George's Lakers are the other area team going to Bellevue for the 14-and-under nationals. The Lakers will have Charles Harrison, Michael James and Nathan Mason as its top three players. David Bowe, Seneca Cohens, John Dickson, Peter Biachina, Michael Wynn and Milton Miles are also key contributors.
The Lakers, coached by Ted Johnson and Stanley McDowell, picked up Randy Childress and Chico Church from teams that lost in the regional tournament. Each squad is allowed to pick up three players from losing teams.
Also in Bellevue July 25-Aug. 1 is the 15-and-under AAU national tournament. Representing the area will be the Prince George's All-Stars, who feature Bryce Beevell, Kolby Morgan, Dickie Simpkins, Artie Walker, Bryan Mackey and Coleman Scott as their key players.