Still wish you were in Louisville at Nationals? Re-live some of the excitement with our recap:
In light of the University of Louisville’s 2013 National Championship victory and the University of Kentucky’s 2014 tournament run, there is no shortage of basketball fans in the state of Kentucky. Coincidentally, at the same time that the Kentucky Wildcats were competing in the final four, the Kentucky Expo Center was hosting another basketball event: the 66th Annual NWBA National Tournament.
In its second year in Louisville, the National Tournament was an enormous success. Over 1,000 athletes on over 80 teams competed non-stop, all weekend, under one roof. Aside from the Paralympic Games, the NWBA National Tournament is the largest disabled sporting event in the world.
Top teams from around the country made the journey to Louisville to duke it out for the 2014 National tournament title in their respective divisions. This year, the adult divisions consisted of the Championship, Division III and the Women’s Division Championship Game. The Junior 10’ Division (broken into NIT and Varsity) featured high school and middle school athletes, and the Junior Prep Division featured middle school and grade school athletes.
Six National Champions were crowned, some old and some new:
The Atlanta Jr. Hawks pulled off the three-peat by defeating the Chicago Skyhawks 36-29 in an emotional, competitive game. This was their third National Championship in a row.
In a battle of the “Cinderella Stories,” The ninth-ranked Rockford Jr. Chariots took home the title over the seventh-ranked Jr. Sioux Wheelers by a convincing score of 45-30 in the NIT Division.
To round out our youth divisions, the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the SLC Rec N’ Crew 76-51 in an intense final game. Many spectators of the Junior Varsity championships were in awe of the skill and intensity on the court, and the Junior Varsity MVP, Rose Hollermann, will go on to represent Team USA on the women’s World Championship team this summer.
We saw a gritty National Championship game in the Women’s Division between the Phoenix Banner Mercury and the University of Arizona Wildcats. The in-state rivalry was apparent throughout the game, but team-oriented offense and stout defense propelled the U of A Wildcats over Phoenix 51-34.
The fifth-ranked Carolina Tarwheels played their way out of the loser’s bracket in Division III to upset the San Diego Wolfpack in the final game, 58-51. In their victory, the Tarwheels avenged a blow-out loss to the Wolfpack from earlier in the weekend. A major hi-light was seeing NWBA founder, Tim Nugent, addressing the entire Wolfpack squad, a team made up of players who are primarily military veterans.
Lastly, the Dallas Wheelchair Mavs, the reigning Champs for a number of years, were stunned by the NY Rollin’ Knicks in the Championship Game. Lead by Canadians David Eng and Tournament MVP, Pat Anderson, the game was a battle of size versus speed and, on that day, size won. Many of the players in that game will go on to represent their countries in Incheon, South Korea this summer at the World Championships. This was a juicy preview to some of the amazing play in the near-future.
Other hi-lights from the weekend included a new Armed Services Salute Game that featured individuals from Fort Knox and Fort Campbell as well as other NWBA members who were injured in the line of duty, ABC Medical hosted a tournament all-star game, and Per4Max Wheelchairs gave a new sports chair to the winner of a juniors-only shoot out. Additionally, many Louisville celebrities including TV personalities, sports anchors and the mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, competed in a fun-spirited and energetic wheelchair basketball game over the weekend.
In all, the tournament can be summed up by the words of our Executive Director, Randy Schubert, “By far and away, this was the best tournament we’ve offered to our membership.”
The event was a fantastic way to feature our incredibly talented athletes, and see a glimpse into the future of our sport with the talented play of the members of our junior divisions. We want to thank all of our volunteers, local partners and sponsors for their support throughout the weekend, and we will see you in Louisville next year!