Ithaca, N.Y. — The Ithaca Elite, an 8th grade basketball team, took first place at an international youth sports tournament last week, according to the team’s coach.
The championship game was played in the Quicken Loans Arena, home to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Ithaca Elite won the game 66-to-47 over the Power Hoops team from Aurora, Ohio.
Calling that win their “best game ever,” coach Ricky Milton said that he couldn’t be more proud of the team, which consists of nine student-athletes from Ithaca.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Milton said.
“It’s almost like these kids turned Quicken Arena into a home game … They showed an unmatched sense of maturity — that was the most overwhelming feeling.’”
Jamar Nembhard, Jordanny Marte, Max Milton, Billy Courtney, Jarred Norfleet, Luis Soto Marte, Ronnie Lower, Quintel Clements and Rayquan Brooks all took home championship honors as members of the team.
On their way to the championship, the Ithaca Elite defeated the Mongolian National Team 65-41, the Binghamton Futures 60-52, and a team from Greece (the country) 53-49.
“I really couldn’t select one player for our team that stood out,” Milton said. “All of these guys are real integral parts of what we do.”
“They sacrifice for their team to accomplish their goals.”
All members of the team, who stayed at Baldwin Wallace University for the duration of the tournament, recently graduated from Boynton and DeWitt Middle Schools in Ithaca, with the exception of Billy Courtney, who is a 7th grader.
The Continental Cup International Youth Sports Festival took place in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 3 to July 6.
The festival consisted of a basketball tournament, a soccer tournament and a baseball tournaments. The Ithaca Elite is an AAU basketball team.
The team came in third place in last year’s tournament. But Coach Milton said the players were resolved to do better this time.
“They pretty much said, ‘Let’s go back and finish this thing up,’” Milton said.
So they did.