The Ballin’ on the Bayou basketball tournament weekend began on Thursday evening October 10 at the 700 Club. Thursday nights are a tradition for players that arrive early to the host city. NGBA players were welcomed by both the local
businesses that hosted events and many of the curious locals wondering what NGBA meant. The host hotel, French Quarter Courtyard, was located a stones throw away from the famous French Quarter which made for easy access to all the restaurants, jazz clubs, the Mississippi River walk, dance clubs, and of course the famous Cafe Du Monde’s Beignet, which, many of the early arrivals were able to experience.
The Friday night registration party was a rare event for NGBA. The event showcased the talents of two NGBA players through a display of photography and a musical performance. New Orleans resident Dwight Dunn held a photo exhibition “New Orleans : Full Access” that displayed amazing photographs of people, places and things in and around the French Quarter. The most talk about photos was one of a women (assuming) wrapped in a heavy canvas red, white and blue American flag on a cold foggy morning, after a Mardi Gras Celebration, resting on the bench’s of the amphitheater located on the banks of the Mississippi river. The striking image of a pair of colorful 4 inch pumps sitting on the seat below the bright colorful American flag with the caption “Wrapped in security”. But the exhibition was only the beginning as the energy was turned up by a performance by Will Sheridan AKA THE G.I.A.N.T. as he performed his single S.O.P.A which brought and ended the night.
The Ballin’ on the Bayou tournament hosted 16 teams from across the country, with Texas being well represented with two teams from Austin, Texas Elite and Austin Sparks, and two teams from Dallas, ThunderCats and ThunderCats Too. ThunderCats Too (Recreation) along with NYC Onyx (Competitive) took the honors of not only being the new teams on the block, but both took home championships in their respective divisions.
The event was represented by 2 DC teams, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, 3 New York teams, Maryland, 2 Atlanta teams, and one from Los Angeles . Many of the divisions held competitive games, but some teams were just too much to handle on an early Saturday morning.
NYC Onyx started strong by defeating the ATL Blaze in a route 55-29, and went on to route SF Gold 59 to 29, and LA Metro 73 to 33. The measuring stick of their talent was set and everyone was able to witness the upstart teams basketball skills.
The ThunderCats Too started out winning a close game against their new in-state rival Austin Sparks 33-32, and breezed by Salt Lake Hardwood 59-33, finishing the day beating the Portland #BETRUE Summer Showcase Champions NYC KIC 45-28. All in all it was a great day for the new teams.
DC Sentinels Blue started the day with an eight point loss to the SF Rockdogs 2 team that came in ready to defend their Portland #BETRUE Summer Showcase Open Championship. The Rockdogs ended the day with a 3-0, record beating Texas Elite 54-39, and Dallas ThunderCats in a close 60-53 win, While the Sentinels end the day with a 2-1 record defeating the Maryland Mavericks and the undermatch LA Metrostars.
The tough games on Saturday set the foundation for the championship games on Sunday as the Recreational championship game featured a rematch between Dallas ThunderCats Too and the Austin Sparks. The game was a tough fought game until the ThunderCats Too opened up a 6 point lead that the Austin sparks were not able to overcome in the final minutes.
The Competitive Division Championship also saw a rematch between ATL Blaze and NYC Onyx. On Saturday the Onyx breezed by the competition including the ATL Blaze, but sunday was a different game. The Blaze took control of the game early and held a small leaded going into the final minutes of the game. But the Onyx turned up the defense and created a number of ATL turnovers that allowed Onyx to take the lead in the closing minutes to capture their first NGBA Championship.
The Open division semi-final games saw the Rockdogs 2 narrowly defeat the ThunderCats 45-44, while the DC Sentinels defeated the Texas Elite 54-40. The rematch between the DC Sentinels, and the SF Rockdogs 2 was much anticipated by many in the gym.
The game started with DC jumping out to a 15 point lead and they never looked back. Well they looked back a little. The DC point guard Mario came out in a the mythical ZONE and ended the first half with 20 points of which 12 of those points came from beyond the 3 point line. But the Rockdogs did not give up, and rallied to with in 5 points with a little more than 5 minutes left in the game. The momentum was shifting and the Sentinels could feel it as Simon and Taylor knocked down a number of 3’s to close the gap.
The Sentinels called a timeout to regain their composure and try to change the momentum. The Sentinels strategy of slowing the game down and counting on making free throws to finish the game, and the Sentinels went on to defeat the Rockdogs 2 58-50.