BASKETBALL: Ballers bounce opponents for tourney title

Front row, from left: Miles Kendrick, Kevin Azcueta, Kenny Williams and coach Joe Lampkin. Back row, from left: Coach John Kendrick, Jason Rhoads, Lucas Schmidt, Juan Ortiz and Luke Walton.

The Gilroy-Morgan Hill National Junior Basketball Ballers won the All-Net Silicon Valley championship Sunday at Valley Christian High School.

The Ballers, a squad of seventh-graders, were pitted against a tall and agile Berryessa team in the final, and the game went down to the wire.

Ballers coach Joe Lampkin said before the game, “We are a running team. We love to get into transition, and our boys, with their skills on a good day, can win it based on desire alone.”

As it turned out, their desire to win is what the locals played off. They prevented Berryessa from holding a lead or tying the score throughout the game en route to a 53-39 victory and a spot in the National Tournament scheduled for March 24 in Los Angeles.

During the regular season, the teams split two contests against each another.

Ballers shooting forward Luke Walton of Morgan Hill fouled out early in the fourth quarter, but his early tone of tough defense set an example his teammates followed the rest of the way.

The Ballers, with just the seven players, had to manage through 17 team fouls.

Gilroy’s Kevin Azcueta, a true point guard, came off the bench to contribute some lock-down defense and provided a key 3-pointer to keep the Ballers ahead.

Berryessa did all it could to stay in it, but Juan Ortiz and Lucas Schmidt swapped out the role of center and controlled the boards by boxing out, allowing their teammates to help with rebounds.

The deciding factor that separated the two teams in the battle came from the rotation of the Ballers three guards, Miles Kendrick, Kenny Williams and Jason Rhoads.

“They are the best guards in the entire valley and to have them all in one team is just too much for opponents to handle,” Lampkin said. “Jason is quick with a high basketball IQ. Kenny is the best spot-up shooter there is, and Miles is floor general and the team leader that puts the opposing team on their back from the first whistle to the last buzzer.”

NOTE: Gilroy-Morgan Hill NJB is a competitive basketball league for boys and girls. The chapter has been in existence for nine seasons in South County and participants have been increasing each year. It operates from September through March. During the spring, the program goes into its club basketball/AAU program under Club Prototype (CP) out of Gilroy playing through the summer. The goal is to build fine young men and women for our community and get them together for the love of basketball. Coach Lampkin and coach KC Adams will be hosting the Club Prototype basketball workshop Saturday and Sunday and March 25 and 31 at Gilroy High School. For more info email [email protected]

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