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Howard County Elite travel
Howard County Elite Basketball fielded seven teams at various grade levels in the East Coast Nationals Basketball Tournament held at West Chester University in Pennsylvania June 22-24. The tournament is part of the American Youth Basketball Tour.
The Elite Boys 8th grade team competed in the 9th grade bracket. The tournament consisted of six opening round games. Often the 8th grade HC Elite boys played against competition that were either older by a year or two, or taller, or both.
Many of the games were quite competitive and close, but the HC Elite 8th grade boys won all six of their games, including games against the 9th grade Howard County Sharks, Harford County Starz, Baltimore Stags (10th grade team), Chester County Thunder, Chester County Magic and the Magec Tias Lanzarote, a 9th grade team from Spain.
This set the stage for the single elimination championship bracket. The 8th grade Elite team drew the Baltimore Stags (10th grade team), a team they beat by three points in the opening round. The HC Elite team played well with significant 3-point contributions from Daniel Kiely and Matt Bernetti. Kiely made five 3-point shots in the first half. This was complimented by stifling defense against the Stags, which gave the HC Elite team a 15-point lead at the half en route to a 51-35 victory.
The win propelled HC Elite into the semifinal game against the Harford County Starz. The game was close and intense throughout as the first half ended with the two teams tied at 30.
Forward/guard Tom Brown kept the team close with solid all-around play on both ends of the court, complemented by offensive support from Kiely and Bernetti. Gianni Pescetto and Donovan Pines played solid defense in the post, battling for rebounds against taller and stronger players.
In the second half, the game remained close as the teams traded points back and forth until about five minutes to play when HC Elite took a 48-45 lead.
The Starz called timeout to regroup, but also to sort out issues at the scorer's table. When play resumed, the Starz attempted to throw the ball into play from the sideline. Pines defended the Starz's best player on the inbounds pass, forced a turnover and then made a pass to Kiely who subsequently passed the ball to Bernetti for a 3-point shot that found the bottom of the net.
This gave HC Elite a comfortable six-point lead. The team held on to win the game, 61-50, to advance to the championship game.
In the other semifinal, the HC Elite 9th grade team beat HC Sharks in overtime to advance to the finals.
After playing eight games in about three days, both teams started the game off rather sluggishly. The first half was marred by poor shooting and lots of turnovers ending with the 9th grade team up, 20-15. In the second half, the 9th grade Elite team took a commanding 46-36 lead with about eight minutes to play in regulation.
After a timeout, the 8th grade team got back into the game with strong offensive and defensive play from Brown, Bernetti, Pines, Pescetto, Kiely, Luke Gardner, Cole Williams and Marcelus Rodgers. With under 10 seconds to go, the 8th grade team was up, 50-47.
The 9th grade team immediately inbounded the ball to Nick Oates, who dribbled up the floor and around several defenders to launch a 30-foot 3-point shot from above the circle that tied the score as time expired.
The teams continued to battle it out in a 2-minute overtime with the 8th grade team prevailing, 54-50.
Both the 8th grade and 9th grade Elite teams will compete in Indiana at the AAU championships.
Centennial Fun Run