Local Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team, the Southern Ohio Flyers will be heading to Charlotte, North Carolina to compete in a national tournament.
The Flyers will kick-off national tournament play Monday, July 18, 2016 in Charlotte.
To get to the national tournament, the Flyers first had to qualify.
“We had to win a qualifying tournament and won two other tournaments,” Southern Ohio Flyers coach Joe Keeney said.
One of the qualifying tournaments was the Lancaster Invitational, which the Flyers won with a 62-60 victory over the Ohio Valley Predators.
All members of the Southern Ohio Flyers are from Scioto and Pike County schools and were either sophomores or juniors during the recently ended school year, according to Keeney.
Keeney said his team has played about 20 games since the start of the AAU season, which has seen the Flyers only lose three games.
Leading the Flyers for six seasons, Keeney has a lot of faith in his squad this season, noting how the normal adversaries on the high school game have come together to compete as a team.
“The boys don’t care who scores and they share the ball well. They play really good team ball,” Keeney said. “We get the ball out in transition well too.”
Aside from being able to play team ball, Keeney said his team plays on both ends of the court, defending the ball when they’re not on offense.
The team chemistry has really set them apart from other teams, according to Keeney.
“They’re boys that never played together,” Keeney said. “They gelled quickly.”
In the Lancaster tournament, the Flyers went a perfect 5-0, suffering zero loses, as a team that had minimal experience playing together, according to Keeney.
“They had competed against each other, but never played with each other,” Keeney said.
It’s not a complete mystery as to how the team came together and formed a quick bond, as Keeney believes their previous experience as competitors let each individual know what the other was capable of doing.
“Everybody knew who each player was and they knew what each kid brought to the table,” Keeney said. “I think that’s what made them gel, along with social media too. Everybody knows everybody anymore through social media.”
South Webster, Wheelersburg, Minford, Eastern (Pike), Clay, Portsmouth, Valley and Notre Dame High School are all represented with players on the Southern Ohio Flyers roster.
The Flyers are also actively fundraising to help pay for their trip to Charlotte. They will be hosting a fundraiser dance Friday, July 15, 2016 at the New Boston Community Center. The dance will start at 8:30 p.m. Friday evening and conclude at 11:00 p.m. Admission to the fundraising dance is $7.00 for individuals and $10.00 for couples and is open to any student in grades 9-12.
Keeney along with his assistant, Jacob Spradlin would also like to thank all the sponsors who have helped raise money for the team.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.