As the AAU basketball season culminates once more, in 2015 we decided to implement a new way of rewarding our outstanding 8th grade players in the form of an All -Star game.
The NBA isn’t the only league celebrating its All-Stars this time of year.
There was no dunk contest and the confines of the West Valley High School gym in Spokane aren’t exactly Madison Square Garden, but we believe the passion and work that these 8th grade AAU players put into their play this season was extraordinary and commendable.
On Sunday, February 8, 31 of the best male and female players in AAU this season took the court. Earlier in the month, the 8th grade coaches each nominated three all-stars, only one of whom could be from their team. The players with the most collective votes were invited to play in Sunday’s showcase.
Erik Farias, a guard for the Five O Nine Hawks, was pulled aside by his coach at practice last Monday (Feb. 2) and was told he made the all-star team. Farias was excited to hear that two of his teammates were also nominated. Despite his excitement, the Hawks had a semi-final matchup on Saturday, which is where Farias focused his energy for much of the week; his team ended up losing by four. Farias was thankful for the opportunity to get back on the court the next day and shake off the loss.
“I’m not in a good mood right now,” Farias admitted prior to Sunday’s all-star matchup. “It’ll fun to be able to get out here the next day and get another chance at a win.”
The girls tipped off first. Team AAU (dark jerseys) and Team Hoopfest (light jerseys) battled hard in an especially competitive contest. Perhaps this was most true for twin sisters Aspyn and Averi Adams, both of the Cats, who were placed on opposing teams on Sunday.
Confident and seemingly relaxed, Aspyn led both teams in scoring. Averi, too contributed to her team in big ways. Opponents for the day, the sisters weren’t fazed by the competitive dynamic.
“It was kind of like when we play one-on-one on our home court,” Aspyn said.
The Adams girls were quick to credit their performances on the court on Sunday to the work they put into their game. Throughout their league season, Aspyn and Averi are shooting, working on ball handling, attending team practice or participating in some combination of the three in a disciplined effort to practice every day. In fact, it’s appropriate that the All-Star game was played on a Sunday.
“Some people don’t train on Sunday and take it as a day off,” Averi said. “But Sunday’s the important day.”
For the Adams’ girls, there are no days off.
While Aspyn’s team took away the ‘W’ on Sunday, Averi was quick to say there would be a follow up game of one-on-one to keep the healthy competition unceasing. In that sense, the Adams sisters are each other’s biggest and best challenge.
Farias too acknowledged the importance of hard work and solid team play in getting to the All-Star game. He added that he thinks that sportsmanship is another significant part of a player worthy of this honor.
The boys’ game directly followed the girls. In another close game, Farias led his team to the win that he wanted.
Each player was supportive of the All-Star game’s inaugural year, especially of the unique opportunity to play with different teammates than usual at an elite level.
“I love the dynamic of being able to play with random players,” Averi Adams said. “You get out there and run five out—that’s the best kind of basketball. That’s the real way to play basketball.”
While Farias’ team is out, the Adams head straight into preparing for this weekend’s AAU championships.
As they close out their AAU careers, the 8th graders remain grateful for the opportunity to be the first class honored as all-stars.
“This was a good year for AAU to bring this event on,” Averi Adams said. “There were a good group of 8th grade players this year and I hope they continue this game in the future.”
Check out the coverage from KXLY 4 News on the Spokane AAU League’s first-ever All-Star games:
Spokane Hoopfest and AAU are excited to host the 2015 AAU championships this Sunday at West Valley High School. The schedule is as follows:
9:00 am – 6th grade boys
10:50 am – 7th grade boys
12:40 pm – 7th grade girls
2:30 pm – 8th grade girls
4:20 pm – 8th grade boys
9:00 am – 4th grade girls
10:50 am – 5th grade girls
12:40 pm – 4th grade boys
2:30 pm – 5th grade boys
4:20 pm – 6th grade girls
For more information about Spokane AAU visit spokaneaau.com.