Lady Prime nets AAU crown

Charles County girls help hoops team wins ti­tle

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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