The school year may be over but that doesn’t mean all sporting activities come to an end. Basketball players in the area have formed a 15 and under AAU basketball team called the “Smyrna Elite.”
While things may have moved slowly in the beginning, coach George Credle said the team is improving. They improved so much that they won the fourth tournament they participated in — BeachBound II in Ocean City, Md. two weeks ago.
“The first three tournaments there were a lot of bumps,” Credle said. “We’re a first-year team but we finally came together at the last tournament and won all the games.”
So how exactly do these tournaments work? Credle said the tournaments are round robin where there are four or five teams playing against each other in the first pool and four or five teams in the second pool. The teams with the best record in each pool face off against each other in the championship.
Playing in the tournaments, the Elite get to play teams from other states. Smyrna beat “Back 2 Basics” from New York 46-42 in the championship game at the BeachBound II tournament.
Credle, and his wife Tiffany, decided to start the AAU team after volunteering as coaches at the Boys & Girls Club. A few of the players on Smyrna Elite were on his team at the Boys & Girls Club. There are 14 players on the team.
“I have a passion for it,” Credle said. “I like working with the kids, teaching the sport I grew up playing.”
Quite a few of the players on the team played basketball in Smyrna schools this past year including Victor Crews at Smyrna Middle School and Stedman Kpana at Smyrna High School. Both players said they joined the Elite because of their friends on the team.
“It’s a new experience. I’ve never played AAU before,” Crews said.
Both said it felt good to win the BeachBound II tournament. Crews attributed the win to the Elite playing as a team; Kpana said the team passed the ball well.
The two coaches believe better communication on the court helped the team succeed at the last tournament.
There are two more tournaments left to play, both of which will be in July. The tournament win boosted the confidence of the team but the three-week layoff is a concern for Credle.
“I’m expecting us to do well. I’m already noticing a difference in practice this week with the way they’re playing. They’re a little more excited,” he said. “But a layoff for three weeks makes me nervous.”
AAU is year-round so the team can continue to participate in tournaments in the fall and winter.
“If we continue to do well and get support from the families and community, we’ll go further,” Tiffany Credle said.
Email Jennifer Dailey at email@example.com.