Alexis Prince, Khadijiah Cave, Martell Buie and Demario Fountain were among the standouts as Georgia Soul (women’s) and Crosstown (men’s) claimed the Elite Bracket championships at the inaugural 360 Hoops Invitational this past week at DME Sports Academy. Competitors from across all age groups from elementary school up to top collegiate and professional standouts vied for the titles in various brackets in the unique 360 Hoops format, three-on-three play on a three-basket, three-team circular court.
In the women’s final, Prince scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out six assists, and Cave pitched in 16 points and a game-best 10 boards as Georgia Soul defeated DMT, 54-25. The men’s final featured a strong comeback by Crosstown, which topped Top Shottas, 15-12, behind five points (one point per basket) from Blue and Fountain. Liam Davis had 10 of the squad’s 12 points and a game-high four rebounds in a losing effort for Top Shottas.
The fast-paced format meant non-stop action: the women’s contest saw 51 possessions in two 10-minute halves, and the men’s had 58 trips in 10:00.
The Women’s and Men’s Elite Bracket title games will be featured on a tape-delayed national TV broadcast with Emmy-Award winning producer Harry Cicma. Innovative camera angles and technology, including 360 VR, will be incorporated. Fans can view replays of games from the lower brackets at the 360 Hoops YouTube channel.
The format, in which three teams compete at a time on the 30-foot diameter circular court, featuring a single stanchion with three regulation baskets facing away in each direction and where players can score for their teams in any of the three baskets, produced some highlights not possible in standard basketball. Athleticism, moving without the ball and team play are paramount, readily apparent in this showcase for the nascent sport.
“We weren’t sure what to expect in our first tournament, but it exceeded everything we could have hoped for,” said Shane Brey, Co-Founder, 360 Hoops. “All of the elements of the game were on display, and we will look back at the tapes, learn which things worked well and which we can tweak to be even better.
“We are thankful to these tremendous athletes, from the youngest kids right up to the Elite men and women for their efforts all week,” he added. “Georgia Soul and Crosstown will forever be the FIRST 360 Hoops champions, and we can’t be prouder to award them the titles, along with the other bracket winners.”
Winners of the inaugural 360 Hoops Invitational in each bracket include:
- Elite Women’s – Georgia Soul (Alexis Prince, Aliyah Collier, Dominique Wilson, Khadijiah Cave) d. DMT (Destiny Campbell, Micah Garvin, Tiffany Hodge, Ionna McKenzie), 54-25. Third place: TC Hoopers (Brandy Montgomery, Dyane Pierre, Nene Johnson, Stephanie Ball)
- Elite Men’s – Crosstown (Jon Thompson, Martell Buie, Demario Fountain, Eric Macintosh) d. Top Shottas (Romelo Bates, Dimitri Thompson, Liam Davis, Wilfredo Rodriguez), 15-12. Third place: Dunk Session (Raheem Watts, Dangelo Lee, Chris Watson)
- High School Girls – National Basketball Academy/DME (Coach Jack Lutzeier, players Mariela Hooper, Isys Grady, Jhaid Westbrook) d. TNBA
- High School Boys – Orlando Mets (Coach Edgar Santana, players Cris Santiago, Malik Moye, Dayron Horn, Waiter Ross) d. Go Riot
The event was followed by a lively and informative roundtable discussion with high-level basketball minds including Division I coaches, highlights of which will also air during the television broadcast. Featured panelists included Howard head coach Kenny Blakeney; Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey; Stetson assistant Brendan Ahearn Suhr; DME Sports Academy co-founder and owner Dan Panaggio; U.S. Army captain and former Augusta State Univ. star Ernesia Wright; Orlando Boom director of player development Mercedes Sirmons; and former Daytona State College and University of Central Florida standout Andrea Ayala.
360 Hoops Invitational event partners include Dynasty Hoops, DME Sports Academy, Orlando Boom, and Ace League.