Day 3 – Championship Day – NWBA 2014 National Championships
The difference in two points required the Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks Prep Team to play three more games than they planned to play at the 2014 National Championships. A 26-25 loss to the #3 seed Chicago Skyhawks in the quarter-finals sent the Hawks to the loser bracket and the three extra games. After wins over the Rollin Falcons (IL) and the RHI Mini Pacers (IN) on Friday, the Hawks were faced with a semi-final game against the #1 seed Courage Rowdies. This was more than just your average semi-final game. After being snubbed by the NWBA Junior Committee with a #2 seed, the undefeated defending National Champions Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks had a point to prove.
The Hawks started on fire and went on a 14-2 run in the first quarter, which basically set the stage for the remaining three quarters. The Hawks led at the half 18-9. The rowdies made a run in the third period but the Hawks still led 27-19 after three. The defensive dynamic duo of Cameron Elzey and Collin Lancaster worked harder than any other game this season. Hawks win 33-26. Eric Francis (Smyrna) led all scorers with 16 points. Collin Lancaster (Bethlehem) scored 10 points while Cameron Elzey (Cumming) had 7 crucial points in the third period including 3 of 4 foul shots. The win sends the Hawks back to the Championship Game for the third time in three years and a rematch with the #3 seed Chicago Skyhawks.
The Championship Game
A large crowd, player introductions and a beautiful Championship trophy off to the side all added to the pomp and circumstance of the Championship Game of the NWBA Prep Division. Both teams started a little tight and played tough defense. The score after the first period was 8-3 Hawks. The offense on both sides of the ball picked up in the second period, but the Hawks kept the edge and led 18-11 at the intermission. The two Hawks guards, Collin Lancaster and Cameron Elzey both did a yeoman’s effort on offense and defense and the Hawks led 27-19 after three.
Then things started to get real interesting. Rookie center Eric Francis (Smyrna) who had already scored 8 points, fouled out, leaving the Hawks in a tough spot. The Hawks went to second year player Cade Maynor (Lindale) to play the center position with just over three minutes to play. The Hawks also turned to Collin Lancaster and his four team mates to run the clock out and prevent the Skyhawks from going on a final run. The Hawks played up to the occasion and outlasted the Skyhawks for a final score of 36-29.
This was a significant milestone for the Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks. Three time National Champions, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition, for the third year in a row the Championship Game MVP was a Atlanta player. This year it was Collin Lancaster (Bethlehem) who scored 17 points and played an outstanding defensive game.
In post tournament awards Cameron Elzy was named to the 2nd Team All-Tournament. Collin Lancaster scored a double and was selected to the 1st Team All-Tournament Team. Finally, rookie Eric Francis was named MVP of the 2014 Prep tournament, the third consecutive time an Atlanta player has been named MVP.
On the academic side of things, Luke Hutchinson (Marietta) and Collin Lafon (Clarkston) were awarded Honorable Mention to the NWBA All-Academic Team in recognition for their academic success.
BlazeSports would like to give special recognition to Cameron Elzey for playing an outstanding tournament, a great season and a fantastic Prep Division career as he played his last game in the Prep Division. Cameron was presented with the game ball from the Championship game in recognition of his outstanding play.
BlazeSports would like to thank the Atlanta Hawks for all their support. It is sincerely an honor for our program to represent the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Hawks. Thanks to Eagle Sportschairs for keeping the Hawks in the best basketball chairs made and keeping those chairs fine-tuned and ready for play. Finally, BlazeSports would like to thank our five Assistant Coaches: Paul Hutchinson, Jason Joines, Marc Lancaster, Bradley Elzey and Alex Armas, as well as all our parents for helping make the 2013-14 season such a great success.