Boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, from the fifth-through-seventh grades, representing the Columbia Gorge Basketball Academy took part in the daylong Hermiston Youth Hoops Tournament last Saturday and Sunday, and produced good results for their season-opening event of the winter campaign.
“I’m super-pleased with our performance this weekend,” said coach and program president Greg Cummings. “We have quite a few things we can work on to improve, but I really see great things coming from this group of boys and girls.”
The CGBA program had four teams go up against more than 100 teams from all over the Pacific Northwest, including Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, Walla Walla, Tri Cities, Idaho and Hermiston.
A vast majority of these groups play year-round.
Cummings leads the sixth-grade boys’ group, and they amassed a 2-3 record with a 41-40 win over Walla Walla, Wash., and a 36-29 bracket-play victory against the Kamiakin Basketball Club, out of Tri-Cities.
Out of the 10 players, Brayden Parker is the lone newcomer, and he hits the hardwood with Nolan Donivan, Sam Shaver, J.J. Johnston, Calvin Floyd, Tristan KuKu, Andre Niko, Cooper Cummings, Henry Begay and Olsen Meanus.
Coach cummings said that all three losses were against some beatable opponents, one of those teams ended up winning the sixth-grade division.
The sixth graders started off on the right foot with a 41-40 triumph over OTT, from Walla Walla, Wash., as they trailed by a 40-35 margin with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, but made the clutch plays to come out on top.
Up next in pool play opposite 509 Insanity, hailing from Sunnyside, Wash., the sixth graders were neck-and-neck for the entire game, except for the last four minutes, in what was a 52-38 setback.
In Sunday’s bracket action against Kamiakin Basketball Club, out of Tri Cities, the 1-3-1 defense and full-court man sets worked fits on Kamiakin in a physical showdown, a 36-29 victory.
Also on Sunday, Cummings’ squad lost by a 47-30 score to Sagebrush Hoops, from Kennewick, Wash.
Trailing for much of the game, the sixth graders staged a comeback to cut their lead to eight points with about four minutes to go, but three consecutive 3-point baskets, all but iced the game.
The third game on Sunday was a rematch versus the 509 Insanity squad in a consolation contest, a 59-44 loss by CGBA.
Coached by Lindsay Brock, the fifth-grade girls’ team, which has seven of eight on the roster in their first year, posted a 1-3 record.
Jackie Begay is a second-year veteran, and she is joined by Hailey Johnston, Lacy Hoylman, Despina Seufalemua, Makaila Miller, Maddie Brock, Sydney Newby and Ava Graves.
On the boys’ side, Michael Cates and Andrew Voodre are on the sidelines coaching a fifth-grade boys group that went 0-5, but lost their final game in an overtime thriller.
All nine active athletes are returning players, with Avery Schwartz, Luke Hoover, River McClure, Sterling Coburn, Leighton Voodre, Nolan Cates, Jason Hull, Hudson Case, Brandon Lentz as the standouts.
Back for another season with an experienced seventh-grade boys’ team that amassed a 1-3 record in Hermiston are coaches Ken Brock and Phil Hukari.
Kai Semlor is the only newcomer on this squad, with nine others back in the fold, joining forces with Sam Rogers, Osbaldo Lopez, Riley Brock, Styles Deleon, Braden Schwartz, Jack Morgan, Fernando Ayala, Tyler vonSlomski and Manatu Crichton Tunai.
The eighth-grade boys’ team did not participate this weekend in Hermiston, and will start off on Dec. 9-10 in Hermiston.
On the roster are Jameson Woodside, Chase Sam, Shane Floyd, William Hoover, Tristan Bass, Isaac Anthony, Rowan Simpson, Jaxon Pullen and Gabe Petroff, and they are being coached by Deric Anthony and Cummings.
With one tournament in the books for four of the five teams, Cummings is optimistic about the future.
Now in the fourth season, Cummings sees constant improvement at every level of the CGBA program.
The long-term goal of CGBA is all about stressing the fundamentals of basketball, exhibiting proper shooting form, great footwork, attacking a team’s weaknesses, and playing great defense.
As a high school basketball coach at The Dalles, Cummings is less concerned about wins and losses at the sub-high school level and more concerned with having the groundwork in place for great fundamental basketball when these young athletes take the next step to the high school division.
“All the teams have been practicing so hard and diligently, putting in the time necessary to compete at a higher level,” the coach said. “The hard work is paying off though, as we are seeing kids coming in at the high school level with the skills that we want to see for a 5A high school basketball program.”
Cummings announced that CGBA is hosting two tournaments at The Dalles Middle School on January 13-14 and February 24-25.
Last year, more than 50 teams from the Pacific Northwest showed up to play basketball and those team and player numbers are expected to double.