Shorthanded Fencor makes fifth appearance in national final
Posted by Stuart London on Jul 18 2006 at 05:00PM PDT
The 7-time state champion Comets Red AAU team finally captures the crown.Buddy Collings
Sentinel Staff Writer
July 19, 2006
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- With parents poised to take pictures, Brooke Thomas gave a trophy shaped and sized like a basketball a playful kiss. Then the shortest player on the FBVA Orlando Comets Red girls basketball team hugged the shiny treasure symbolizing national age-group supremacy.
Krystal Thomas, the tallest Comet, looked down, laughed, and said with palpable satisfaction, "Finally, we got one."
Who said kids these days need instant gratification?
The Comets, an all-star squad of girls who have chased titles since they were 8 and 9 years old, made state history Tuesday by dethroning Fencor of Philadelphia as national champions in the 16-and-under age group final at Disney's Wide World of Sports.
The Comets came from behind in the second half to win 71-65 and become Florida's first AAU girls basketball champion.
"We've been trying to win this since we were 8 playing up in the 10-and-under division," said Brooke Thomas, a rising junior at Edgewater. "It feels so good because Fencor killed us when we were little [in a 12s matchup]."
The Comets, who went 11-0 in the weeklong tournament, have exchanged some parts every season -- winning seven consecutive state AAU championships along the way. But the puzzle fits almost perfectly now, with Thomas in the middle of a team that has all the pieces.
"Each person brought something different," said Jaimie Givens, who delivered 15 points, eight rebounds and three crucial 3-point shots.
Krystal Thomas, a 6-foot-4 senior bound for Duke, struggled to score early but finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots and was voted tournament MVP by coaches.
Alexa Deluzio, a junior who plays alongside Krystal Thomas and Givens on First Academy's high school state title team, had a team-high 19 points. Deluzio and Sthefany Thomas (14 points) of Wesley Chapel made the 15-girl all-tourney team.
Fencor, which won the 14s title two years ago and the 15s in 2005, got 24 points from Caroline Doty, who put up big numbers all week. But they had to go without injured phenom Elena Delle Donne, a 6-5 junior.
"Elena averages 28 points and 12 rebounds, and she's a matchup nightmare," said Veronica Algeo, the Fencor coach. "But you still have to play the game, and I'm proud of my girls. Credit the Comets. Their defense was very tough."
The Kenner Angels of Louisiana won the third-place game, 67-64 against a Dayton (Ohio) Stars team that included Carlee Roethlisberger, sister of Ben, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.
Buddy Collings can be reached at email@example.com.
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