DAY 2 – NWBA Championships – the end of a 31 game winning streak.
The Hawks Prep team started Day 2 with the early morning 8:00 am game against #3 seed Chicago Skyhawks. The Hawks Prep squad met the Skyhawks in last year’s semi-finals, where the Hawks won 34-17. But, as many people will say, this is a brand new year. Atlanta opened with its signature defense and held the Skyhawks to 8 first half points. The Hawks led at the half 16-8. Eric Francis (Smyrna) had 6 first half point and Collin Lancaster (Bethlehem) Jon Joiner (Fayetteville) both had 4 points.
The second half was a different story thanks to an overzealous referee who called 4 fouls on Collin Lancaster in the first 12 minutes of the game. Collin didn’t have 4 fouls in the entire National Tournament last year. Go figure! Needless to say, the Hawks are the same team with our starting point guard sitting on the bench. The Skyhawks doubled their first half scoring and squeaked out 26-25 victory to snap the Hawks 31 game winning streak.
With this unexpected loss the Hawks found themselves in the loser’s bracket for the first time since the 2012 National Championships. Two year ago the results ended up with a National Champions, so the Hawks focus is still on a 3-Peat. Now it would take 3 additional wins to reach the Championship Game, two of which would have to come today on Day 2. The first game on the road back to the Championship Game was against the #8 seed LWSRA Rolling Falcons (IL). The Hawks combined their desire to reach the Championship Game with a ret pair of officials and got right back on a new winning streak with a 31-18 victory. Eric Francis (Smyrna) led all scorers with 15 points followed by Collin Lancaster (Bethlehem) who had 12 points. Cameron Elzey and Jon Joiner both scored 2 points.
The second game of the Hawks 2014 comeback was against the #5 RHI Mini Pacers (IN). The Hawks had played RHI earlier in the year and had a 20-15 win. The Hawks started strong their defense and led 16-4 at the half. The Hawks used the time to get our bench players lots of playing time. Hawks win 28-21 behind 14 points from Eric Francis and 10 points from Collin Lancaster. Cameron Elzy and Jon Joiner each added 2 points.
The Hawks two consecutive wins placed them in the semi-final game against the #1 seed Courage Rowdies on Saturday morning. This game will be more than just your average semi-final. The Hawks are fired up to play the Rowdies since they received the #1 seed over the Hawks, despite the Hawks being undefeated defending National Champions. Similar to the Skyhawks, the Hawks Prep team played the Rowdies in last year’s tournament. The two teams met in the championship game and the Hawks won 30-13. Another reason why Atlanta felt they deserved the #1 seed. But, as many people will say, this is a brand new year. The Rowdies lost earlier today the Chicago Skyhawks by double digits, so we are expecting an exciting semi-final game.
The Hawks Varsity squad, coming off a disappointing Day 1 that included two very close loses, had two games to determine their final ranking for the 2014 season. The first game of the day was against the #13 seed, Turnstone Flyers (IN). The Hawks played the Flyers back in February and had a 46-41 victory. The Hawks had the best start of the tournament and jumped out to a 24-14 half-time victory. The second half was a see-saw battle that went down to the wire. The Flyers outpaced the Hawks for a 45-42 win. Josh Joines (Kennesaw) led the Hawks with 16 points, followed by Samuel Armas (Villa Vica) who had 10 points. Treyvon Smith (Athens) and Bryan Powell (Marietta) both added 6 and Brent O’Grady (Marietta) rounded out the Hawks scoring with 4 points. Overall the Hawks played much better and improved their shooting percentage to almost 50%.
The Hawks last game of the 2014 Tournament was for the 15th or 16th place finish. The Hawks would face the #11 seed ParaSport Spokane. The Hawks had the best 20 minutes of the week and jumped out to a 28-10 lead. This provided the Hawks with the opportunity to play many of their bench players. The spunky Spokane squad played well against the future Hawks starters and narrowed the score to 4 points with three minutes. The first string finished off the game with a 48-42 win. Samuel Armas (Villa Rica) led all scorers with 18 points, followed by Treyvon Smith (Athens) with 14 and Josh Joines (Kennesaw) with 12 points. Brent O’Grady (Marietta) and KJ Reese (Powder Springs) both added 2 points.
The Hawks Varsity team fell short of it goal for the 2014 season, but played better than the scores indicated.