Rockets team wins Region; heading to nationals

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.

The fourth-grade team of the Gainesville Rockets Basketball Organization, comprised mostly of players who attend elementary schools in east Gainesville, won the National Championship Southeast Region Tournament of the U.S. Specialty Sports Association, or USSSA.

Led by head coach Lavorn Williams and assistant coach Jervaughn Mavin, the Rockets went 4-0 during the tournament held last weekend in gymnasiums around the Gainesville area to earn a berth in the USSSA National Tournament of Champions, which will be held from Aug. 9-11 in Kansas City, Mo.

“We ran a 2-3 zone, but what was most successful for us on defense was our 3-1-1 press that we used coming right out of the gate in all of the games; that is what put us over the top,” Williams said.

He said his team’s pressing defense led to easy points off turnovers early in the games, which led to momentum and insurmountable leads during the tournament that ended with the Rockets defeating Below the Rim of Hollywood 41-23 Sunday afternoon at Santa Fe High School in Alachua.

Williams said the starting five players were Jarveil Gainey, Johnquavis Jones, Nasir Lamb, Christian Norman and Aaron Small Jr., and he added that all of the players on the team played in the games. The other players on the team are Torey Cobb, Aziel Brown-Gainey, Draco James II and Antonio Rizzo.

Chris Williams, executive director of the Rockets, said most of the players on the team are students at Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy and Rawlings and Williams elementary schools.

He said although the Rockets fifth-grade team did not win the championship in their division, they played well and made it to the final four in their division.

“We are all proud of them for their efforts,” he said.

The fourth-grade Rockets advanced to the championship by beating the Wellington (Fla.) Wolves 35-29 last Friday morning at Abundance Grace Church in Gainesville, Below the Rim 41-29 Friday afternoon at the Easton Sports Complex in Newberry and the True Ballers of Sanford 39-27 Saturday afternoon at The Rock School.

Coach Williams said he took over the team late in the regular season, but he is glad to see the players have been rewarded for their hard work.

“They worked their tails off and they were rewarded for their hard work by winning the (Southeast) nationals,” he said.

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