Monday, February 16, 2015

Team Glory 2021 A Model Of Consistency

The strength of the DMV has been apparent in recent years with the Team Glory Elite 2021/5th grade team coached by Mike Harmon.  Having appeared in the last two national championships at the 3rd and 4th grade levels - winning the 3rd grade championship and coming in as national runner up in 4th grade – Team Glory Elite was poised to avenge last year’s loss and bring home the national championship.

Glory used two- and three-a-day practices to prepare for their trip to Coco Beach, FL.  In addition to running a very intricate offense, many of the team’s players engaged in daily workouts and skill sessions to improve their individual games.

After an impressive season that included multiple tournament titles Glory stepped into the national tournament as clear favorites; having beat every top team in the country that they faced to that point.  As pool play began Glory continued its dominating style of play defeating all three opponents by astronomical numbers – Flight Ballers 65-24, Philly United 56-24, and top flight program George Hill Rising Stars 63-28.

Due to prior performance at the national level combined with their performance in pool play Team Glory Elite received a bye into the Sweet 16.  Awaiting them there was a large Hoop4Health squad seeking an upset, Glory quickly put any hope of an upset away controlling the game from the onset and coasting to a 65-35 victory and a spot in the Elite 8.

In the Elite 8, YBR Elite who defeated Glory earlier in the year looked to do so again – a much bigger team they attempted to use size and athleticism to offset the patterned offensive and disrupt the jump shooting guards while keeping them out of the paint.  Every expectation was that this would be the toughest game of the tournament for Glory; technically it was as they only won by 15, 55-40. The victory moved them to the Final 4 and one game away from redemption in the national championship game.

The next challenge included two 6’0 big men from the North Texas Elite Tarheels.  In a back in forth battle Texas controlled the paint while Glory struggled from the perimeter.  The shots that fell previously did not fall in this affair.  When Glory’s leader and leading scorer Zion Harmon picked up his 4th foul late in the 3rd quarter; the flow of the game changed as his aggressiveness on both ends was limited.  Down late Harmon found the range on a shot with seconds remaining in the game to tie it at 38 apiece.  The Tarheels moved the ball to half-court, called time-out, and drew up what turned out to be the winning play.  Not your textbook look at the basket, rather a catch in the middle of the paint and a no look shot that could have easily been called a jump ball before the release; it bounced and careened into the basket as time expired.  Harmon led all scorers with 32 of the teams 38 points, in the 40-38 loss.

The loss knocked them out of national title contention; but with an opportunity still to place as one of the best teams in the country, Glory regrouped mentally.  They then stepped on the floor as a unified bunch in the 3rd/4th place game versus one of their most heated rival Team Teague from Indiana.  Glory held on for another double digit victory 56-44 to finish as the #3 team on the nation.

To be one of the best in the country it requires team work; Team Glory Elite used the contributions of many to finish 3rd.  Elijah Hawkins often mesmerized the crowd with his ball handling skills and passing, while leading and running the team.  A pure point guard Hawkins scoring burst and outside shooting really changed a lot of games opening the floor for him and his teammates. Hawkins prior big stage national experience kept him calm in crucial moments and added immense value.  Noah Charles was a multi-category contributor for the squad and scored from all 3 levels, while sharing ball handling duties.  He was exceptional from beyond the 3-point strip and ran the floor well showing the ability to finish, often against bigger opponents.  Jake Koverman played the frontcourt and was responsible for handling the other bigs Glory faced.  A tough task, Koverman acted as the glue guy taking care of the dirty work on the offensive and defensive glass.  Stepping out and knocking down the mid-range shot on the pick and pop sets kept the defense honest and drew some of the size away from the basket.  Timely scoring and high IQ basketball defined Koverman during the week and allowed the team to have a presence in the interior.  As expected Zion Harmon played big in the tournaments biggest moments, showed tremendous leadership and prolific scoring – each time out the team and defense were designed and geared to focus on and stop him.  Nevertheless it was to no avail as the nation’s #1 player in the age group, proved over and over again why he is considered as such.

There can only be one winner at a national championship, but the consistency this group, organization, and coach has shown has been nothing short of remarkable.  They are a proud group and a group that the DMV should as well be proud of.

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