Washington AAU basketball teams place fourth at national tournament

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Washington Heels Elite AAU basketball program showed it not only develops skilled players, but also determined athletes who persevere in the face of tough situations. Washington Heels Elite sent two squads to Hampton, Virginia, for the AAU National Basketball Championships July 5-8, and both teams overcame obstacles to finish fourth in their respective tournaments.

The Heels Elite 12U/13U team got off to a slow start in Hampton. The team went winless in pool play, going 0-3. But the Heels Elite bounced back in bracket play, winning three games consecutively to reach the final four of the national tournament. Head coach John Lampkins credited the team’s balanced attack, which improved as the tournament progressed and relied on every member of the team, for the Heels Elite’s fourth-place finish out of 26 teams in the tournament.

WASHINGTON HEELS ELITE 12U/13U: The Washington Heels Elite 12U/13U squad poses with its medals after the AAU National Basketball Championships in Hampton, Virginia. Standing in the back row are Mrs. Pamela Lampkins, Jaylon Lampkins, Gary Payne, Zymari Perry, Caden Council and Jerai Davenport, while standing in the front are Jaquel Johnson, Kadir Lawrence, Randall Rather and head coach John Lampkins. (John Lampkins)

Washington Heels Elite also sent an 11U team to the national championship. Playing with only seven players, the 11U squad finished pool play with a 2-2 record, earning the team a No. 2 seed in bracket play. Already playing with just two players on the bench, the Heels Elite 11U team suffered an injury, leaving it with only six players.

But the 11Us pushed forward, going undefeated until they reached the final four of the tournament. Lampkins, who said he was blessed to be the team’s coach, credited his team’s run to the semifinals to each individual on the team stepping up to the occasion, along with the squad’s “team ball” approach. The Heels Elite 11U team finished fourth out of 32 teams.

“We are blessed to have that chance to play in a national (championship tournament), even with the odds stacked against us,” Lampkins said. “I am so proud of these guys.”