The ball didn’t bounce the way the NorCal SparX 87s girls basketball team wanted in the AAU 14-and-under national championships in Minnesota Friday and Saturday.
The 87s, who have five area players in uniform, went 0-3 in pool play and were bounced from the double elimination tourney.
“We expect to see some really good basketball teams,” 87s guard and Grass Valley native Jeanee Gonet said before the team made the trip to Rochester. “There will be tough competition.”
The 87s lost by 38 points to Team Texas in Friday’s opener, but cut that deficit by more than half in the nightcap with a 58-42 loss to the Widows (Virgina).
Elite (Ohio) spoiled the 87s chances to get one in the win column with a 49-32 decision Saturday. Before the tournament, 87s head coach and SparX co-director Rob Hodges liked his team’s chances in pool play.
“The top 16 teams from last year get automatic seeds. And out of 72 teams, we’re in a pool without one seeded team,” he said. “But the thing about nationals is there are no weak sisters. Ninty percent of those teams would be able to handle any of the varsity teams around here. It’s the WNBA for their age group.”
Katie Mathis, 10, will have a chance to showcase her softball skills against the best of the west at the American Softball Association Western Nationals in Kingman, Ariz. Aug. 2-4.
The Alta Sierra Elementary School fifth grader and her team, the Sacramento-based California Breeze, secured a berth in the 10-and-under bracket with a top-three finish in the Sacramento Metro region tournament July 6.
The Breeze, which snagged its eighth tournament title of the season in Elk Grove over the weekend, also qualified for the National Softball Association’s World Series in Texas and the Triple Crown in Colorado, but chose to stay closer to home.
“Our goal was to make it to nationals, and we would have if we’d have won the regionals, but we finished fifth,” Mathis’ mother, Susan Mathis said.
Mathis, who plays in the outfield and hits .387, was a member of the Rocklin 10-and-under All-Star team which went 21-1-1 overall this season.
“My whole family has inspired me to play softball and sports. They help me a lot,” Mathis said.
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The 2021 High School Optimist All Star teams for baseball, softball and boys volleyball have been announced, and several local student-athletes made the cut.