Lady Prime nets AAU crown
Charles County girls help hoops team wins title
Four Charles County girls will have the ultimate what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation stories when they return to school in the fall after helping their Lady Prime Marissa Coleman AAU basketball team to a national title at the National Travel Basketball Association Girls National Championship June 30 to July 3 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Fourth-graders Kailyn Rapp, Nadeya Regala, Kourtney Johnson and Carolae Barton were part of the 11-player roster that defeated the Garden City (N.J.) Queens 26-24 in the Gold championship game.
“It was a pretty close game and what I was thinking was just play good defense, no fouls, no fouls, no fouls,” said LPMC head coach Dionna Clemon, who coaches the middle school girls hoops team at Schools Without Walls in Washington, D.C. “At that point I pretty much knew we had it, I was overly excited. I always believed in the girls; they all had the potential to do anything they put their mind to. I believed in them and they believed in themselves as well.”
LPMC cruised through the Pool B round robin portion of the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. LPMC averaged 30 points per game and allowed an average an average of less than 17 against. Its average margin of victory was almost 15 points.
“It was a very special moment. It was breath-taking actually,” said Rapp, a for ward/center from Waldorf.
“I was excited and it felt good,” said Regala, a shooting guard from Waldorf. “When the game was over I only jumped on one [teammate].”
Lady Prime Marissa Coleman was founded this season and played its regular season slate March through June and then played in three tournaments leading up to nationals, winning the last one. Most teams began play last fall. “I’m very excited because when you first put
the team together you don’t think you’d have an opportunity on the first year to be playing for a national championship,” said former streetball player and NBA great Lonnie Harrell, the director of the organization, “but with how hard the girls worked we pretty much had an idea it was possible. In the summer league you could see the development of the girls and they just started getting hungry and confident.
“My whole thinking about nationals was the experience and to know what to expect next year and to have fun. They’re kids, they’re only going to be kids once. I’m not like a military person who has them walking in straight lines and training and working hard. I let them experience things and let them have fun.”
Team Sol, which finished third in Pool A, took the Silver championship following a 21-15 win over Lady Royals.
LPMC opened tournament with a 34-21 win over the Queens. Harrell, who was coaching a 12-U boys team at the tournament, arrived with just minutes left in the game and knew the team was special.
“It was a very tough game and they pulled it out at the end and what I told the team was, ‘Wow, we have a chance of winning this thing, and they believed it as well,’” Harrell said. “That game let me see they had a chance of winning it all. And then watching them play and compete the next game (a 32-12 win over the Lady Wolverines) I told the coach, ‘You really have a chance of winning this.’”
LPMC followed that up with a 23-8 win over the Lady Royals and defeated the Hornets 35-16 in the semifinals.
“I always just told the girls, ‘Take your time, make good passes, follow through on your shot and no craziness,” Clemon said of her game plan during the tournament. “Just play the game. Don’t play their game, make them play our game.”
In the playoffs, LPMC defeated the Hornets 35-16 to set up a rematch against Queens.
“Right before the championship, I had a conversation with the girls,” Clemon said. “They were pretty nervous, but I let them know that they had to leave all the doubt, all they had done in other games because we were going to leave it all out there and play the game like it was our last game. And they went out there and played. They’re way better than they thought they were [and] I’d tell them [that].”
Harrell brought four teams to the tournament; the girls team and a boys 11-U, 12-U and 14-U team. All four teams were undefeated through pool play and all three boys teams finished in third place.
“People didn’t like that,” Harrell said. “They weren’t going to let us out of there with four champions.”
Lady Prime Marissa Coleman continued its winning ways last weekend when it captured the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Spring Boys League tournament with a 2825 win over the P.G. Jaguars.
“That’s one thing about girls; they listen,” Harrell said. “They don’t try to rely on athleticism or try and mock the Steph Currys and LeBron James’ of the world. They listen to you. If you tell a girl to do something, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.”
The Lady Prime Marissa Coleman fourth-grade basketball team defeated the Garden Valley Queens 26-24 to win the national title at the National Travel Basketball Association Girls National Championship June 30 to July 3 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.