GREENSBORO GALAXY SEVEN FINISHES SECOND
The Greensboro Galaxy 14u AAU girls basketball team went to Clarksville,Tennessee to compete for the National Championship against 57 teams from all over the country. They came from Michigan,Florida,Pennsylvania,Ohio,Indiana,Louisiana,Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi,Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Nevada,Minnesota,Texas, Alabama and Tennessee. All in search of that elusive National Championship. The Greensboro Galaxy 13u squad won a division two championship last year in Kingsport, Tennessee.
This National tournament is considered to be the place where the best talent in the nation would be on display. College coaches from all across the country were here to see young talent before it really burst on to the national scene. College coaches present were from Maryland, Kentucky, Nortre Dame, Oklahoma,Xavier,Alabama,UCLA, Vanderbilt, SMU, Butler, TSU, NC A&T, Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech, Valpraiso, Furman and of course none other than Tennessee legendary coach Pat Summit who were in the stands. There were many more at different locations. Top programs have learned that the early bird catches the worm.
The Greensboro Galaxy squad were the only team to have only seven players on their roster. Most teams were loaded with at least ten players or more. Have you ever heard the phrase “What could go wrong could go wrong”? Well it did for the Galaxy squad from day one. They won the first game 61-54 against the Mississippi Jaguars 63-56 but lost one of their key players Miranda Jenkins to an ankle injury that had her very doubtful for game two. The team fought through it and were led by Desiree Drayton (Dudley) 22 points and 21 rebounds. Miranda Jenkins (Eastern Guilford) contributed 17 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists. Brittany Drew (Page) knocked down 10 points and contributed 3 assists. Khadejah Wilkerson (Dudley) had 8 points and 4 rebounds. Leandra Hicks (Dudley) grabbed 7 key rebounds.
In the second game Galaxy lost a heartbreaker 45-43 to Dayton Metro from Ohio. Miranda Jenkins playing with a very noticeable limp hit a baseline runner with 10 seconds to play to give Galaxy a one point lead 43-42. Galaxy rebounded a ball and was fouled. Galaxy missed a one and one opportunity. Ohio rebounded the ball and called time out with 4.3 seconds left. They got the ball at half court. Ohio through the ball in and one of their players fumbled the ball and the loose ball was rolling around behind the three point line. One of Galaxy players dove at the ball as well as an Ohio player. They simultaneously reached the ball at the same time with both players on the ground with 1.5 seconds left to play. The referee awarded the Ohio player three shots which she knocked them down and they won the game. The girls were very dissapointed but had to get over it quickly because they had another game to play in a few hours agianst the nationals number fourth ranked team. Brittany Drew lead the squad with 13 points, 3 assist. Desiree Drayton 11 points, 11 rebounds, 8 steals. Miranda Jenkins 10 points 3 asst. Khadejah Wilkerson 7 points and 9 rebounds.
In game three against the Missouri Blazers a team that had players from all over with enourmous talent from the first player to the 15th player reminded folks of the running rebels of Jerry Tarkanian’s team which featured such stars as Larry Johnson( GrandMama) and Greg Anthony. Many felt that this team could easily go all the way. The Galaxy squad performed in a way that no one expected. Even the opposition were still talking about it as the week progressed. Yes they won the game 106-85. But Galaxy squad won the admiration of the tournament. The score was as close as 6 points late into the game before Galaxy got in to foul trouble and could not foul because they would not have had enough players to finish the game. In the game the Galaxy squad were dealt another blow when Desiree Drayton sustain a mild concussion that would side line her for pretty much the rest of the tournament. In this game the Galaxy squad showed that they could perform at a high level no matter what the competition is. Miranda Jenkins finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists. Brittany Drew had 19 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Desiree Drayton hit 18 points, 10 rebounds. Khadejah Wilkerson had 9 points, 3 rebounds. Katrina Gibson (Smith) 5 points, 2 assists off the bench. Leandra Hicks had 5 points, 5 rebounds. Shameka Robinson(NE) had 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals. The Blazers Elite said no one has ever scored that many points on them. Their coach stated ” We saw them earlier and they didn’t have any energy, but they had energy to beat us if we hadn’t scored the way we did “. Maybe the Galaxy squad did not win but it seemed like they exposed one of the countries best teams because they were gone from the tournament early saturday morning.
Galaxy squad were still reeling from the loss of one of their main players whom the whole squad spent a great portion of the rest of the day at the hospital awaiting the outcome. Which was not a favorable one. They went on to play the next day while still in Pool Play and lost 73-54 to the Maryland Sharp Shooters. They played hard but one could see the emotional affect that it had on the team. Brittany Drew paced the squad with 17 points and 3 assists, 1 steal. Miranda Jenkins had 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists.2 blocks. Khadejah Wilkerson contributed 9 points, 6 rebounds 1 assist. Katrina Gibson knocked down 8 points, 3 assist, 2 rebounds. Leandra Hicks had 3 points and 12 rebounds. The squad was down but not out as they awaited the pairings, for the Classic Championship Run. They were glad to see that their teammate was able to come sit on the bench with them dressed out in her uniform. It seemed at that moment that a new breath of life has arisen. Even though they knew she could not play.
Now it was time for Championship play in the Classic division. It had such teams as the Greensboro Gaters. Arcadia team whom lost to the Nations number one ranked team by eight points on opening day. Yet they beat the Philladelphia Belles team who knocked off the number one ranked team during pool play. Yes there is not much difference from top to bottom no matter which category a team was in.
Galaxy played the Grand Rapids Gators from Michigan in the first round and won 59-42. It was an emotional win because with 2 seconds left and the game well in hand, both coaches agreed to let Desiree get in the game to retrieve a pass with no pressure from the opposing team since the game was well in hand. It was a tribute a respect to a great player. Every one in the gym clapped on the campus of Austin Peay where she had the nasty spill. Katrina Gibson stepped up in a very big way. She knocked down 16 points including two threes. Had 3 rebounds, 4 assist, 1 steal. Miranda Jenkins contributed 15 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists. Brittany Drew had 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. Leandra Hicks almost had a double double with 9 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals. Khadejah Wilkerson finished with 6 points and a personal tournament high of 13 rebounds. Shmeka Robinson had 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and played great defense. Before the game many of the fans were saying “Is seven players all that they have “. The answer was still yes.
Round two game with so many teams now on their way back home featured Galaxy against the Arkansas Angels. This squad had a player that wore number 23 that was pretty good and will be highly recruited. She plays the guard position and we had seen her earlier. They were 15 players deep with a lot of moxy with it. Galaxy won the game 61-54 with several college scouts in attendance. They played really hard and were fortunate to have their teammate play a few minutes. Desiree came off the bench and in limited minutes scored 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and went 3 for 3 from the charity stripe. She jumped and grabbed one rebound and had the referee saying “Did you see that “! Miranda Jenkins scored 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks, 1 steal. Brittany Drew hit 12 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and directed the offense. Leandra Hicks scored 4 points and grabbed 12 rebounds with 2 steals. Khdejah Wilkerson manned the post with 9 points, 6 rebounds. In two years she could become one on the nation’s highly recruited post players provided she is used properly at the high school level. Katrina Gibson dished out 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds. Shameka Robinson 1 rebound 1 assist. The Arkansas team walked away very dismayed saying that they “could not believe that they loss to a team with only seven players”. Some even did not shake hands.
In the semifinal game against the Maryland Shooting Stars whom had some of the players they played against last year at the nationals, they won 44-37. The Maryland squad had just defeated the Greensboro Gaters by three points. The game was kind of sluggish by both teams until Glaxy took control. Miranda Jenkins scored 19 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals. Brittany Drew finished with 7 points, 8 assists, 2 steals. Desiree Drayton hustled and managed 10 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals. Khadejah Wilkerson had 6 points, 4 rebounds. Leandra Hicks grabbed 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal. Katrina Gibson had 2 rebounds, 1 assist. Shameka Robinson had 1 rebound. College scouts at the game were from UCLA, Alabama, Austin Peay, Kentucky.
In the Championship game they came up short against the Arcadia team from Louisiana 66-62. It was a great game by two deserving teams. Miranda Jenkins had 21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assist, 2 steals, 1 block. Brittany Drew had 14 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound. Desiree Drayton had 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 4 assist. Kahdejah Wilkerson had 8 points, 9 rebounds.Leandra had 3 points, 7 rebounds.
It was once said that the “Only thing constant in life is change”. Nothing could be more appropriate than that statement for the Galaxy Girls squad. They had several things happen as far as their squad from last year. They had a few players that did not return. They added a few new ones. Some of them did not stay through out the season for whatever the reasons may be. They had new coaches that they had to get adjusted to, Coaches Stuart Simpson and Coach Rick McClean. They were under funded. Yet through it all the nucleus from last year remained in tact. Khadejah Wilkerson (Dudley), LeAndra Hicks (Dudley), Desiree Drayton (Dudley), Brittany Drew (Page) and Miranda Jenkins (Eastern Guilford). They added two new additions that went the distance Katrina Gibson (Smith) and Shameka Robinson (NE). Demetri Cephus (Grimsley) was an intricate part of their suuccess but did not make the trip.
In order to reach the nationals they had to win at the Super Regionals in order to qualify.They crossed that hurdle and prevailed. They had to over come last minute not wanting to come moments that tend to happen. They had folks pulling at them from all kinds of directions and yet they remained in tact. They could have settled for going for a title for division two but that was never an option for them. They were determined to lay it on the line no matter what. Many of their girls are under the radar as far as college coaches go because they have not been at many show cases. They even missed the one here in Greensboro on the campus of UNCG a few months ago. Yet they kept rolling along. They eventually went to Brandon Clay show case in Atlanta, Georgia on the campus of Georgia Tech. They performed extremely well and won four out of five games in front of college scouts.
Now they have gotten the chance to play on the big stage again against the top competition in their class in the country. Guess what? Again they are bringing home some hardware that 50 something other teams are not. They were the only North Carolina team still standing when it came to Sunday morning. Just as it was over a year ago. They finished second in the nation in the classic division and could finish in the top 10 in the nation when it is all said and done. They never made any excuses nor allowances for what they had or did not have. They just played the game. Success tends to bring enemies but in Clarkesville, Tennessee the ” GREENSBORO SEVEN ” received rave reviews from admirers whom left wondering how in the world did they made it this far. Its the things that Champions are made of ! The great thing about the squad is that they are student athletes whom carry themselves in a very respectable manner that happens to love to play the game to the best of their abilities. No one could ask for more than that.
*****from CJ Criss in Clarksville, Tennessee*****