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Posted: Wednesday, July 17th 2013 at 9:59pm

North Ga. Elite basketball finishes third at national tourney

By staff
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The North Georgia Elite fourth grade travel basketball team poses with the the third place trophy following the final day of play at the Youth Basketball of America national tournament in Kissimmee, Fla., last Friday. Team members include, from left, Kolbe Ashe, Eli Pitts, Giai Phan, Cooper Turner, Gus Faulkner, Luke Blackburn, Jimmy King and Ethan Reeves. In the back row are assistant coach Mark Turner, head coach Ryan Pitts and assistant coach Shane Blackburn.
The North Georgia Elite fourth grade travel basketball team recently finished third at the Youth Basketball of America national tournament in Kissimmee, Fla.

The North Georgia Elite program, which is based out of Hall County, offers travel teams, clinics, camps and individual training to basketball players throughout northeast Georgia.

The fourth grade team consists of Jimmy King, Cooper Turner, Eli Pitts and Luke Blackburn (all from Cleveland), Gus Faulkner (Dahlonega), Ethan Reeves (Gainesville), Giai Phan (Chestnut Mountain) and Kolbe Ashe (Hayesville, N.C.). The team's coaches –- Ryan Pitts, Shane Blackburn and Mark Turner –- all live in Cleveland.

“It was an awesome experience for the kids to compete in the national tournament,” Ryan Pitts said. “It was great to watch these kids improve during the season. To go from where we started in March and to end up at the national tournament was great. To be able to compete on a national level was a great accomplishment for this group of kids. They battled for all four quarters in every game and to finish third was unbelievable.”

The Elite squad posted a 2-2 record in Division 2 Pool B play during the first two days of the tournament. Elite beat Catano, Puerto Rico (44-8) and the Louisiana Ambassadors (45-10) in pool play, but suffered losses to Louisiana Ascension Heat and the Florida Phenoms to earn the third seed in the Pool B standings.

In the tournament quarterfinals, Elite knocked off Georgia Rising Stars, the No. 2 seed from Pool A, 33-28, to earn a spot in the Final Four.

Elite got a rematch with the Florida Phenoms in the semifinals but came up short as the Phenoms advanced to the championship game with a 43-29 win. The Phenoms went on to win the national title, beating the Louisiana Heat in the championship game.

With the semifinal loss, Elite squared off with Ascension Heat for the second time in five days. The Heat had handed Elite an 11-point loss during pool play, but things were much different in the third-place game as Elite controlled the game from the start to post a 41-33 victory.

North Georgia jumped out to an early lead and never trailed, opening up a double digit lead in the third quarter and never allowing the lead to get below six points in the final quarter.

Ashe was named to the All-Tournament team while Pitts finished second in the three-point contest.
Associated Categories: Sports News

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