NWA Wings Take 17s

The Northwest Arkansas Wings down the Arkansas Wings 64-56 Sunday afternoon in North Little Rock to take home the 17-and-under AAU state basketball tournament championship.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK - The Northwest Arkansas Wings don't have one superstar or someone that you can definitely say is a can't miss standout in college.

But they have a plethora of very talented players that play as well together as any team around.

That was evident again on Sunday afternoon when the NWA Wings dropped the Arkansas Wings 64-56 in the finals of the state 17-and-under AAU Basketball tournament at Shorter College.

"That is the key for us," noted Greg White, who coaches the NWA Wings along with Jon David Paker. "Last year there was a James Anderson or a David Cline, but we don't have a guy like that who can come out and just get points. But they do it as a team."

Sylvan Hills junior power forward Julian Bassett (6-8, 210) led the way with 14 points – 12 of which came off the offensive boards.

He joined with 6-7 Huntsville junior Evan Robinson (8 points) to control the boards while Rogers sophomore Aaron Hawley got his team out early with 8 points.

"They did a great job boxing out, Julian was grabbing some great rebounds and Evan was just a man in there," Hawley said. "They really go after the ball."

Fort Smith Southside's Chase White ended with 12 points, combining with Heber Spring senior Lathe Massey to control the ball and knock down several free throws down the stretch to secure the win.

"This team is awesome," Hawley said. "We pass the ball, hit the open guy and Lathe is a great point guard who really penetrates and hits the open man. We are just all about the team."

The NWA Wings went 5-1 this weekend with the only loss coming Friday night in pool play when Massey was out.

"In the game we lost (on Friday night) we were actually up 20, Lathe was at his graduation and I was at mine," White said. "So we didn't have a full coaching staff or a team, but I think it paid off because he was getting 18 stitches on Saturday and everybody else on our team stepped up."

The win gives the NWA Wings the No. 1 seed from Arkansas in the AAU National Tournament in Orlando on July 26-August 1.

Three other teams advance to the national tournament this weekend with the Arkansas Wings' 17 and 16-and-under teams also qualifying and the Arkansas All-Stars getting the final berth.

"John David does a great job designing our offense, we work together and they enjoy each other," White said. "That is a big thing in summer basketball."


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