Rockets competing in regional basketball tourney


Chris Williams, director of the Gainesville Rockets, his wife, Tandria Williams, and head coach Lavorn Williams with members of the fifth-grade Gainesville Rockets basketball team, which also will be competing in the 2013 USSSA National Championship Southeast Region Tournament.

CLEVELAND TINKER/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.

The fourth- and fifth-grade teams of the Gainesville Rockets Basketball Organization will be two of an estimated 100 or more teams competing in the National Championship Southeast Region Tournament of the United States Specialty Sports Association, or USSSA.

Facts

BASKETBALL TOURNEY

What: The 2013 USSSA National Championship Southeast Region Tournament for youth basketball.
When: June 27-30.
Where: Gainesville/Alachua County.
Tickets: $25 for tournament pass, $10 for daily pass.
Miscellaneous: Times and sites of games will be posted Thursday at www.flahoops.org.
Information: Visit www.flahoops.org.

The tournament will be held from June 27-30 in Gainesville/Alachua County at various sites. David Stirt, tournament director and founder and executive director of the Gainesville Stampede, a traveling youth basketball organization, said the tournament will feature boys teams in the third- through eighth-grade divisions and girls teams in the third- through 12th-grade divisions. He said passes to the entire tournament will cost $25, with daily passes costing $10.

He said the games will be played at Abundance Grace Church, Buchholz High School, Gainesville High School, the King Center, Santa Fe College, The Rock, the Alachua Recreation Center in Alachua, the Easton Sports Complex in Newberry and other sites.

“We are anticipating that between 100 and 110 teams will register and compete in the tournament,” said Stirt, adding that the two Rockets teams and the Stampede's seventh-grade team are the only area teams that have registered for the tournament. The deadline for at-large teams to register is Thursday. Registration can be done online at www.flahoops.org.

Stirt said the teams that finish in the top four in each division will automatically qualify for the USSSA National Tournament of Champions, which will be held from Aug. 9-11 in Kansas City, Mo.

Chris Williams, who founded the Rockets with Gainesville resident Chanda Mayes, said most of the players on his teams are from east Gainesville. He said the fifth-grade team qualified for this tournament by winning a state tournament several weeks ago in Melbourne. The fourth-grade team is an at-large entry into the tournament and so is the Stampede team.

The players on the Rockets' fourth-grade team are: Torey Cobb, Eugene Donald, Aziel Brown-Gainey, Jarveil Gainey, Draco James II, Johnquavis Jones, Nasir Lamb, Christian Norman, Antonio Rizzo and Aaron Small Jr. The head coach is Lavorn Williams and Jervaughn Mavin is the assistant coach.

The players on the fifth-grade team are: Nathan Bailey, Torey Buie, Paul Cooper Jr., Kinnzon Hutchinson, Keith Joiner Jr., Noah Mackey, Deontae Mavin, Adarius Miller, Michael Quarterman Jr., Elmer Rollins, Tyresse Sanford, Joshua Singleton, Jalen Speer and Willie Williams III. The head coach is Keith Stokes and Devon Mackey is the assistant coach.

Williams said the players are very excited about the opportunity to play in front of family and friends who don't normally get a chance to see them play when they travel. He said during this season, which began in February, the team traveled to Columbus, Ga., Cocoa, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Orlando, Tampa and Tavares.

“The players and the coaches have worked really hard to get to this point and they are all excited about going out and doing their best in the tournament,” Williams said.

Stirt said the best competition will probably be in the boys seventh- and eighth-grade divisions, but he added that all of the divisions will feature good basketball.

“Local fans will get a chance to see the same kind of competition or better competition than is showcased at the Sunshine State Games (Florida's Olympic-style sports festival),” he said.

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