Georgia Blazers…2012 NWBA Prep National Champions!

Day 4: Georgia Blazers are the 2012 NWBA Prep National Champions!!! 

Georgia Blazers NWBA Experience in Photos

The Georgia Blazers Prep Team became the first BlazeSports team to win a National Wheelchair Basketball Association National Championship. The 4th ranked Blazers had to play 6 games in 3 days to earn the national title including three games on Friday.

The Blazers started with a 40-19 win over the 5th ranked Courage Center Rowdies (MN).  That first round win matched the Blazers against the #1 seed Grand Rapids Jr. Pacers. The Blazers lost by 7, 43-36, but played well enough to know that they could play with the higher ranked teams.  Friday started earlier with am 8:00 am win over the Oklahoma Blaze, 50-12.  The Blazers advance in the loser’s bracket to play a rematch against 5th ranked Courage Center, who had upset the #2 seed RHI Mini Pacers. The Rowdies gave the Blazers a great game, but the Blazers prevail 36-30 to meet 3rd seed Bay Cruisers (CA) in the semi-finals.  The semi-final was decided in the fourth period when the Blazers outscore the Cruiser 11-2 to move on to the Championship Game with a 44-35 win. The Blazers would face the Grand Rapids Jr. Pacers for the third time in a month.  The first two match ups ended in losses for the Blazers.

Blazers during championship game opening ceremonies. Photo credit: Cherie Boyd

Championship Day started early with the team arriving at the gym at 8:00 am. The NWBA staff had arranged a small opening ceremony by introducing the teams and having the national anthem.

The Blazers knew they had to play great defense and make their shots to have a chance against the Jr. Pacers, a team that had previously beaten the Blazers by 17 and 7. The Blazers changed their defense strategy in the second game and stuck with it for the next three games.  The plan was more of the same and it worked. The Blazers led after the first period 10-6. At that point, the defensive duo of Collin Lancaster and Cameron Elzey helped shut down the Pacers tournament leading offense.  The Blazers led at halftime, 21-9.

Blazers would control the game from the opening tip. Photo Credit: Cherie Boyd

Photo Credit: Cherie Boyd

Sam Armas scoring 2 of 14 against the #1 ranked Jr. Pacers.

The Blazers knew the Pacers were going to make a run and the third period was the time. But the Blazers matched them offensively and led 27-15 after three. The Blazers had played well in the fourth quarter and the Championship Game would be more of the same.  The Blazers closed out the game with an 8-2 run to win their first national Prep title, 35-17. Josh Joines led all scorers with 18 points and was named Player of the Game.  Sam Armas was second high scorer of the game with 14.  Collin Lancaster scored 2 points and Chance Boyd made good on a foul shot to round out the Blazers’ scoring with one point.

Collin LaFon help cuts the net after the win Photo Credit: Cherie Boyd

Tournament sponsor ABC Home Medical presents the Blazers with the National Championship trophy and a check to BlazeSports America for $1,000. Photo Credit: Cherie Boyd

The Blazers would like to thank the tournament hosts for a great three days of basketball. Thanks to the parents of our six players. A special shout out to KJ Reese and Taevan Grant, Blazers, who were unable to make the trip but were instrumental in our team’s success this season.

Thanks to our Sponsors and donors!

The 2012 National Champions, Georgia Blazers and BlazeSports America would like to
thank the following sponsors and donors for their support of our 2011-12 season:

Atlanta Commercial Tires
Eagle Sports Chairs
Absolutely Specialties
Gary Willis
Sonya Hunter
Charlotte Clark, RNC Industries
Bruce Gold
Joseph Cruz
Gregory Schick
Ben Statham
Legro Inc.
Snellville Customers
Larry Hart
Vic Lester (Timberwolf)
Sue Buckholz
Karen and Stephen Zeliff
Paul Breslin
Juan C. Armas
Hiram Animal Hospital
Mr. and Mrs. Juan Armas Jr.
Nancy Hardy
Anna and John Huston
William and Susan Keppel
Berkmar High School
Grayson United Methodist Church.
Donna and Thomas Fisher
Robert Lawson
Laura Herlihy
Scott and Janice Mozley
Thomas and Brandi Raines
E.W. Douglas
Jimmy Jarrard
Jim and Ruth Ishee
Jerry and Joyce Cole
Jack Hart
Ideallease of Atlanta
The Everett Family
Candice King
ABC Home Medical

Day 3: The 4th ranked Georgia Blazers had to battle through three games today to win a spot in the 2012 NWBA Prep Division National Championship Game. The Blazers started the day at 8:00 am with a 50-12 victory over the Oklahoma Blaze.

The Blazers second game was against the 5th ranked Courage Center Rowdies (MN) who upset 2nd ranked RHI Mini Pacers (IN) for a rematch with the Blazers. The Blazers won yesterday’s game 40-19. The Rowdies came to play and the Blazers had a slight lead 10-7 after the first period. With a strong 6 point first half performance from Chance Boyd the Blazers extended their lead to 24-16 at half-time.

The Rowdies were not done and came roaring back in the third to bring the game to a 2 point 26-24 difference after three periods. The Blazers scored 10 in the fourth while holding the Minnesota squad to only 6 points. Blazers win 36-30 to get one game closer to the championship round. Samuel Armas led the Blazers with 16 points, followed by Josh Joines with 8 and Chance Boyd with 6. Cameron Elzey added 4 points and Collin Lancaster closed out the Blazers’ scoring with 2 points.

The Blazers had one more game to score the trifecta and land a spot in Saturday’s Championship game. Next up, the 3rd ranked Bay Cruisers from San Francisco. The California 5 player squad had played great basketball the past two days and was not going to be an easy opponent.

Josh Joines at the foul line against Bay Cruisers

The Blazers jumped out to an early first period lead 11-6. The Cruisers battled back and the Blazers’ lead was cut to 2 points at half-time, 21-19. The third quarter was an eight minute see-saw battle with the Cruisers cutting the lead to one point, 33-32.

The Blazers decided they wanted the win more and clamped down the defense while turning up the offense for the final eight minutes. Blazers outscored the Cruisers 11-3 to win 44-35 and earn a spot in the Championship game. The Blazers were led by Samuel Armas who had a game high of 26, while Josh Joines scored 16 and Chance Boyd rounded off the Blazers scoring with 2 points.

Blazers celebrate semi-final win!

The Blazers will meet the #1 ranked Grand Rapids Jr. Pacers at 9:15 MT on Saturday for the final game of the tournament.

Day 2 at the NWBA Nationals Championships started at 7:00 with the Blazers leaving their hotel for an 8:00 a.m. game against the Oklahoma Blaze. The Blazers started the day in the loser’s bracket after losing to the #1 seed Grand Rapids Jr. Pacers. The Blazers had a clear expectation to win their way back to the Championship Game on Saturday. It would take three consecutive wins on Day 2.

The Blazers started strong and led the Oklahoma squad 24-4 at half time behind 16 points from Josh Joines and 4 points from Samuel Armas. The Blazers continued on a roll and finished with a 50-12 win. The Blazers were led by Josh Joines with a game high 26 points and Samuel Armas with 14. Chance Boyd scored 6 and Collin Lancaster rounded out the Blazers’ scoring with 4 points.

Chance Boyd playing tough defense against Oklahoma.

Collin Lancaster at the foul line where he scored 2 of his 4 points.

The Blazers’ next game was a re-match against Courage Center Rowdies who The Blazers beat in their first game 40-19. Two more wins today and the Blazers play for the National title.

Day 1: The Georgia Blazers opened the 2012 National Wheelchair Basketball Championships with a first round game against 5th ranked Courage Center Rowdies (MN). The Blazers started off strong defensively against an experienced Courage Center team and led 8-6 at the end of the first period. The Blazers exploded offensively in the second quarter behind the shooting of Josh Joines and Samuel Armas who had 14 and 8 first-half points respectively. Blazers extended their lead to 22-8 at half-time.

The Rowdies regrouped and made a run on the Blazers in the third period. The Blazers were able to keep their lead with a 30-15 margin at the end of three. The fourth quarter was more of the same, with the Blazers spreading out the scoring with all six Blazers adding to the offensive effort. Josh Joines finished with a game high 22. Samuel Armas had 8, while Chance Boyd scored 4. Collin LaFon, Cameron Elzey and Collin Lancaster each had 2 points to round out the Blazers’ 40-19 win.

The Blazers’ opening game win matched them against the number one ranked Grand Rapid Jr. Pacers (MI) in round 2. The Pacers overmatched the Blazers at the Music City tournament in February. The Blazers have played good basketball since then and were hoping for a better showing during this rematch against the Pacers. The Blazers got off to a good start, playing the Jr. Pacers even after the first period. The Pacers turned up their offense and combined with some sloppy play by the Blazers and not so good shooting (7 for 20) and an 8-8 tie quickly turned into a 25-14 Pacer lead at half-time.

The Blazers used the half-time intermission to rethink their defensive and came out in the second half on a mission to show the Pacers that they could indeed play with them. The Blazers’ strategy worked and they slowly got back in the game. The Blazers outscored the Pacers 12-10 in the third period to close the score to 35-26. The Blazer’s defense continued to the final buzzer and the Blazers outscored the Pacers 22-18 in the second half. Despite the great comeback the Pacers won 43-36. The Blazers consider it a small victory within a tough loss considering the loss by 17 during their first match-up.

The Blazers head into a potentially long Day 2. They will start with an 8:00 a.m. against the Oklahoma Blaze. If the Blazers win that game, they will face a rematch against The RHI Mini Pacers (IN) at 1:00 pm.

Preview: The Georgia Blazers Prep wheelchair basketball team travels to Colorado for the 2012 National Wheelchair Basketball Championships. The Blazers are one of nine Prep teams making the journey to Colorado Springs.  The Prep competition is being held at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs and starts Thursday, March 22. The tournament format is a double elimination bracket and the Blazer’s first game is Thursday at 11:45 against the fifth-ranked Courage Center (MN).

The Blazers are ranked fourth out of nine teams, finishing the 2012 regular season with a 12-2 record. The Blazers’ only losses were to first-ranked Grand Rapids Jr. Pacers and second-ranked RHI Mini Pacers. The tournament rankings are:

  1. Grand Rapid Jr. Pacers (MI)
  2. RHI Mini Pacers (IN)
  3. BORP Bay Cruisers (CA)
  4. Georgia Blazers
  5. Courage Center (MN)
  6. Oklahoma Blaze
  7. Nebraska Red Dawgs
  8. Denver (CO)
  9. Dallas Jr. Mavs (TX)

The young Blazers are taking on the best in the country short two players.  Second year player KJ Reese is out for the season with a broken leg. Also, second year player Taevan Grant was unable to make the trip.  If the Blazers win their opening game they face the number one ranked Grand Rapid Jr. Pacers. If they lose their opener, their opponent will be determined based on the results of Game 1 and Game 5.

Meet the 2012 Georgia Blazers Prep Team… (click for more)

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