Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Hardwork Wins National Championship

Hardwork Basketball-5th Grade AAU National Champions
On the strength of an impressive 7-0 run, Coach Sonny Johnson’s 5th grade Hardwork Basketball squad (HWB) was the last team standing at the 5th Grade AAU Nationals in Orlando, FL. last week. Of note was the fact that Johnson’s team had to take down 3 nationally ranked teams (4th, 9th, & 11th) in order to claim the championship.

With a bolstered roster that included players from area teams and neighboring states, as well as 3 of Buckeye Prep’s top 10 ranked players, HWB finished both pool and bracket play unblemished. HWB’s trek to the title included pool play wins over Minnesota Steel (75-24), Sequin Wolves (84-17), YAACE-Canada Elite (57-53); and bracket wins over ASA Steel (69-52), Next Page Force 2026 (51-33), STL Knights (77-45) and Young Bucks NYC (61-44).  

Although Johnson’s team was loaded with talent, several players stood out among the rest. Marcus Johnson, the #1 ranked 5thgrader in the country according to Coast 2 Coast Prep, logged in an impressive performance. Word has it that Johnson averaged 28 points and 5 assists per game.  In addition, in 3 games, Johnson reportedly scored an eye popping 30 points per game.  
Will "Scoop" Smith, Peyton Kemp & Marcus Johnson
Also playing well for HWB were TJ Crumble, who averaged a double/double (15 points, 11 rebounds & 3 blocks), and Bradon Fogle, who was described as “Mr. Do It All,” and averaged 6-10 points and 5 rebounds per game. With his outstanding play, Crumble has now built a case as one of the top big men in the country.  Pittsburg’s Will Smith was electric and added great guard play for Johnson, as did Columbus’ Darek Whitfield and Payten Kemp. Smith also played great defense and his work in Orlando established himself as one of the top floor generals in the country. HWB’s full roster included TC Crumble, Samar Dari, Braden Fogle, Derreon Gray, Marcus Johnson, Peyton Kemp, Greg Price, Will “Scoop” Smith and Darek Whitfield.

If what Coach Johnson told us was correct, Hardwork, although unranked one week ago, will rise to #2 in the country when Coast 2 Coast Prep updates their 2026 team rankings.   In addition, Johnson expects to keep this team together next year and to play in major events. In fact, you can catch them in at the Buckeye Prep Invitational next March! Also, many of HWB’s top players will be competing in the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase scheduled for September 7th& 8that Otterbein University in Columbus. 

Next up for Johnson’s team is a trip out to Las Vegas for the Big Foot tourney where the team will again face great competition. Congratulations to Coach Johnson and his team for making the Buckeye State proud!

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