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Six champions crowned on DHBSL Championship Saturday

AMERICUS – Six basketball teams left the Ninth Grade Academy Gymnasium as champions on Saturday, July 31 as the Dwight Harris Basketball Summer League (DHBSL) concluded the 2021 season. The season began on Monday, June 1 of this year and 25 teams in six different age groups competed all summer to try and make it to Championship Saturday, but only 12 were able to make it.

The first of those six championships to be decided was the 8U Division (7-8 year-olds). This game featured the 8U Arkansas Razorbacks against UCLA. The Razorbacks wasted no time in jumping out to a big lead in this game and went on to win 24-8.  Steven Kearse led the Razorbacks with 11 points and Kamrynn Rogers led UCLA with six points.

11U Arkansas guard Camryn Watts (#5 in red) scored 10 points to lead the 11U Arkansas Razorbacks to the 11U DHBSL Championship.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The second championship game to be decided was in the 11U Division (9-11 year-olds) and once again, it featured the Razorbacks of Arkansas against the Bruins of UCLA. In this game, Arkansas jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first half and led 22-16 in the second half before the Bruins made a late run and almost sent the game into overtime. As the seconds were winding down in regulation, UCLA’s Saige Maddox drilled what some thought was the tying basket. However, his made shot came after the horn sounded and the Razorbacks were able to hold on and win the DHBSL 11U Championship by the score of 29-27.

Camryn Watts led the Razorbacks with 10 points and Kendrick Hill chipped in nine in the winning cause.  Tyran Smith led the UCLA squad with 12 points.

11U UCLA guard Saige Maddox (#23) runs the offense for the Bruins. Maddox scored two points in the loss to Arkansas.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The 14U Division Championship Game (12-14 year-olds) featured the UCLA Bruins against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga jumped out to a 12-7 lead early and then outscored the Bruins 15-11 to take a 27-18 lead. However, UCLA went on a 12-5 run to cut its deficit to 32-30. This run took place in part due to the shooting of UCLA guard Lebron Brown, who drilled a three-pointer to bring the Bruins to within two at 32-30 and later hit another three-pointer to tie the game at 35-35. Shortly thereafter, Chris Luster gave UCLA a 37-35 lead.

Over the next couple of minutes, the lead swung back and forth until UCLA took a 47-44 lead on a basket by Shaddrick Robinson. At that point, the Bruins would never relinquish the lead and went on to win 51-46.  Brown led all scorers with 30 points and made four three-pointers on the day.  Jaquavion Moses led the Gonzaga squad with 23 points and made three shots from beyond the arc.

The 14U UCLA team poses for a team picture with their trophies after winning the DHBSL 14U Championship. L-R Back Row: Corderain Leverett, Arthur Mayes, Lebron Brown, London Lee, Chris Luster, L-R Front Row: Travion Banks, De’’ontae Clemons, Coach Travis Brown
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The fourth championship to be decided was the girls’ championship. This game featured the Houston Lady Cougars against the Gonzaga Lady Bulldogs. It also featured two of the area’s best local high school players in freshman Jesstynie Scott of Houston, who plays for Schley County, and Gonzaga’s Riley Mitchell, who is a junior playing for Southland Academy. The Lady Cougars jumped out to an 18-7 lead before Mitchell drilled a three-pointer to pull Gonzaga to within eight at 18-10. However, that would be about as close as the Lady Bulldogs would get as Houston took over in the second half and went on to win the DHBSL Girls’ Championship 40-28.

Jaquavion Moses (#24) scored 23 points to lead the 14U Gonzaga team against UCLA.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Scott led all scorers with 22 points to lead the Lady Cougars to victory, while Deira Clark, who will be playing her high school ball at Sumter County this winter, led the Gonzaga team with 12 points. Mitchell scored five points on the day for the Lady Bulldogs, including a three-pointer.

The next championship to be decided was the 17U championship (15-17 year-olds). This championship featured the Houston Cougars and, again, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Jesstynie Scott of the DHBSL Houston Lady Cougars pushes the ball up the court against Gonzaga in the DHBSL Girls’ Championship Game.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Many of the players who participated in this game are local high school players from Sumter County and Southland Academy, including Buddy Brady (Southland Academy), Brandon Pope (Sumter County), Anthony Tyson (Sumter County) and Luke Exley (Southland Academy) just to name a few.

As one might expect a high school game with talented players to go, this championship game was wire to wire from start to finish. The first half was a tightly-contested affair and both teams were tied at 22-22 at the half.

Riley Mitchell of the DHBSL Gonzaga girls’ team (#23) gets a good screen from her teammate Emma Hayes.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Houston went on an 8-0 run early in the second half and capped off that run with a basket by Javon Lewis, but the Bulldogs countered with a 7-0 run of their own, cutting their deficit to 30-29 on a basket by Anthony Tyson with 9:30 to go.

Over the next few minutes, both teams traded baskets, but Dartanian Carter was able to give Gonzaga a 39-36 lead when he sank two foul shots with 26.7 seconds left. From that point on, the Cougars were unable to reclaim the lead and Gonzaga went on to win the 17U Division Championship by the score of 42-36.

17U Houston guard Cedric Smith directs his team’s offense and is guarded by Anthony Tyson of the Gonzaga team in the DHBSL 17U Championship Game. Smith led the Cougars with 11 points.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Brandon Pope led Gonzaga with 16 points and Tyson poured in 15. Cedric Smith led Houston with 11 points and Buddy Brady chipped in nine in the losing cause.

The final championship game of the day featured two teams from the 18-25 Adult Division: Baylor and Gonzaga. This division is for young men ages 18-25 and many of these young men are former local high school players who are currently playing collegiate ball. The first half was an evenly-played half with Baylor leading 29-27 at halftime.

Jaquavius Goober (#10) competes for Gonzaga in the DHBSL 17U Championship Game.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Both teams traded baskets throughout the second half and the score was tied at 43-43 until Dwight Harris Jr., who plays his college ball at Spring Hill College in Alabama, made two free throws to give Baylor a 45-43 lead with two minutes to go. From then on, the Bears would not relinquish their lead and they would go on to win the 25U Adult Championship by the score of 48-45.

Dwight Harris Jr. (#23) of the 25U Baylor team scored 18 points and drained four three-pointers to help lead Baylor to a 48-45 victory over Gonzaga to win the DHBSL 25U Championship.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

For the past nine years, the DHBSL, which is part of the Dwight Harris Boys Club (DHBC), has been in action during the summer for the purpose of giving the youth of Americus and Sumter County a positive alternative to being out on the streets and engaging in criminal activity during the summer. According to Dwight Harris, the founder of the league, there is documentation from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office stating that there is a direct correlation with the DHBSL and the decrease in crime among the county’s youth during the summer months.