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  • A.G. Smith

Sen. Oscar Braynon II and Miami Gardens Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro, Ph.D., hosted the City of Miami

Teams came from Overtown, Miami Beach, West Park and all over South Florida to face off in the City of Miami Gardens Youth Invitational Basketball tournament, May 23, at Rolling Oaks Park, 18701 N.W. 17 Ave.

“We’ve got kids from all over that are coming to play,” said Sen. Oscar Braynon II. “We know that Miami Gardens is known for its football. We wanted to give the kids an opportunity to play a little basketball, especially since their seasons are over. Now their optimists teams, their church league teams and their club teams come out here,” said Braynon.

Braynon and Miami Gardens Councilman, Erhabor Ighodaro Ph.D., in collaboration with the city’s parks and recreation department, hosted 170 basketball players at the blacktop tournament during Memorial Day weekend.

“They did an excellent job, this is the first tournament that we’ve won, we’ve only been together for about a month right now…We don’t know each other yet, but we’re able to work together and win,” said Damond Neely, head coach for the Miami Beach Lightning and former University of Miami Hurricanes football player.

The Lightning teams both took home championship trophies. The 13 and under division defeated Town Nation of Nationwide Sports Youth Outreach and Athletics with a score of 38-29. Miami Beach Lightning’s 15 and under team was victorious over the City Knights of Hialeah Gardens, 21-18.

“Our first game we lost. It was a pretty good game. We played against bigger kids, they were 11 and 12-year-olds, but they came out and did their thing. I was proud of them they showed me that they weren’t scared and that they got heart. That’s what I try to teach them, discipline and to play basketball hard,” said Myron Parker, the coach for the Miami Gardens Ballers’ 10 and under team. Parker’s team consisted of the youngest players in the competition.

Midtown was the champion for the 11 and under division, winning 42-21 against Nationwide. The Next Level Sports Youth Program of Broward County won over Town Nation, 38-30, in the 17 and under championship.

“I’m really proud of my kids. We got a nice group of guys here. We showed good sportsmanship, good teamwork and good leadership. We’ve been together since we’ve been playing 12 U. Now we’re all the way up to 17 U, so we’ve got that cohesiveness. We play together, we play strong and we just play by the rules,” said Tyrone Mackey, head coach for the Next Level Sports Youth Program 17 and under basketball team.

The games began around 10 a.m. and continued until 5 p.m. The 11 and under and 13 and under teams played games approximately 40 minutes long with a 5 minute half time. The 15 and under and 17 and under teams played for approximately 45 minutes with a 5 minute half time. The teams were treated to a free lunch of hot dogs, chicken and hamburgers.

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