By JACOB HOAG
The future sure looks bright for Charlotte High boys basketball. Some future Tarpons had a successful weekend in Orlando with one team earning a national championship.
The Charlotte Swish eighth-grade team competed in the 2019 United States Specialty Sports Association National Championships held at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center and won the D2 Gold Championship bracket.
Also competing in Orlando were the fifth-grade team (runners-up), the third grade (4th place) and fourth grade (4th place), and sixth grade, which finished 2-2.
But the boys weren’t the only ones competing for titles. The Lady Wolfpack 10th grade team also took home a championship in their division.
After going 2-2 and finishing fourth in pool play, the Wolfpack beat the Charlotte County Miracle in the semis and the St. Pete Skills Academy to win it all.
“We had a pretty productive weekend all-in-all,” coach Mike Williams said. “It went a lot better than I probably expected. If everything stays the course and the kids continue to work and get better as they get older, Charlotte High is in pretty good hands as far as basketball’s concerned.”
The eighth-graders went 4-0 in pool play, beating the LA Blue Hawks, Orlando Silverbacks, Advanced A2 Athletics and Team Bo Bell by an average 15.25 points.
In bracket play, Charlotte received a first-round bye and beat the LA Blue Hawks in the championship game 54-43 to earn the title.
“They’re long, they’re athletic and they play very hard,” Williams said of his team. “On Thursday we played a team out of Louisiana and I didn’t really know what to expect. They came out with a lot of energy and had a lot of fun. They played hard and ended up winning that game by about 15 with a couple hundred people watching.
“It seemed like they continued to get better as the weekend went along. I don’t think they had any pressure at all to be honest. They were as loose as they could’ve been and very confident in what they’d been doing and what they were about to do. I didn’t see any sign of them being rattled one bit.”
Rising freshman John Gamble (6-foot-4 guard) was named MVP and Tynan Becker (6-foot-3 guard/forward) was selected to the All-Tournament team.
The fifth-graders lost to the Broward Blue Chips by three in pool play and then again by two, in the championship.
CHARLOTTE GRAD REAVES SIGNS
Makai Reaves, a recent graduate of Charlotte High School, recently got the opportunity to continue his basketball career.
Reaves signed to play with Columbia College in Sacramento, Calif. last week after a standout career with the Tarpons. Reaves averaged 12.2 points with 1.6 steals per game as a senior. He helped lead the Tarpons to a district title and was selected to play in the SFABC North-South Game.
LEMON BAY’S GROSSENBACHER EXCELLED IN COLORADO TOURNAMENT
Rising Lemon Bay senior Bailey Grossenbacher had quite the weekend playing with the East Cobb Bullets-Byars in the Colorado 4th of July Fireworks tournament over the holiday weekend.
Her team went 8-3 in the 16u power pool playing teams from Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Michigan and eventually losing to Demarini Aces out of California.
Grossenbacher batted .450 with four home runs and one strikeout in ten games.
She was also ranked as the No. 59 outfielder in the class of 2020 by Extra Inning Softball.
“I was very proud of how well I hit playing against some of the top-ranked teams and pitchers in the country,” Grossenbacher said.
VENICE ALL-STARS REACH STATES
The Venice Little League 9-11-year-old All-Star team parlayed a big first inning into a 7-6 victory over the Golden Gate Nationals (Naples) at Atwater Community Park in North Port on Sunday evening. The win, in the championship game of the Florida Little League Section 6 Tournament, earned Venice a place in the state tournament next week.
After blowing out their previous two tournament opponents, 20-0 and 14-0, Venice had reason to feel comfortable with a seven-run first inning.
The 2019 9-11 year-old Florida All-Star Tournament will be played at Atwater Park.
The games begin on Friday and conclude with the championship on Monday, July 15.
Sun Correspondent Stephen McKay contributed to this report.