Hoops tourney a slam dunk

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The City of Socorro’s Finley Gym and Tourism Director Joshua Kerns have done it again.

Photos by Tanya Pyke - El Defensor Chieftain: The Socorro Magic took second place in the eighth-grade division. Back from left is Serena Perez, Marinarae Rosales, McKenzie Greenwood, Ashlyn Aguilar. Front row from left is Tranique Jackson, Demitra Ulibarri and Alana Chavez

When the state AAU basketball tourney directors Jane Minor and Bill Krum asked Josh to host this year’s AAU qualifier, he stepped up to the line and sank the shot.

There had not been a state AAU qualifying tournament in two years due to lack of organization. The last tournament was held in Los Lunas.

Photos by Tanya Pyke - El Defensor Chieftain: The Socorro Warriors took second in the fifth-grade division. Back row from left is Mason Greenwood, Anthony Baca Jr. Michael Baca, Christopher Gutierrez, Adadrian (Dooda) Brawley, Dylan Avalos; front row is Austin Smythe, Tara Apachito and Issac Lopez

Forty teams flocked from towns such as Espanola, Tucumcari, Las Cruces, El Paso, Albuquerque and Santa Fe to take part in last weekend’s tourney.

There were three local teams that placed in the tournament. In the third grade girls division, the Diamond Divas from Socorro captured first place. The Socorro Warriors finished second in the fifth-grade boys division. The Socorro Magic took second in the eighth-grade girls division.

Photos by Tanya Pyke - El Defensor Chieftain: The Socorro Diamond Divas won first place in the third-grade girls’ division. Back row from left is Coach Gilbert Peralta, Taelene Fowler, Dione Vega, Gabrielle Paz, Alyssa Aguilar; front row, Haley Apachito, Alex and Andri Peralta and Analize Alderete.

In first place, from fourth through eighth grade in the boys division were Albuquerque teams; Albuquerque Heat, NM Lil Dogs, NM Slam, NM Dogs and NM Thunder, respectively.

First place in the ninth-grade boys’ division was T&T from Los Lunas.

Kerns coordinated with the principals of the local schools and New Mexico Tech’s Director of Physical Recreation Melissa Begay for the use of their gyms. Additionally, Kerns and his staff traveled to deliver fliers to teams that participated in out of town tournaments as well as other marketing avenues.

“I had to find a date that didn’t conflict with other local events that I worked on in addition to other tournaments happening such as graduation,” he said.

The event showed there are a lot of opportunity for players of all ages to improve their game.

“It helps our kids realize that in order to be competitive, they need to put the time in on the court to prepare; it also served to spark interest in the younger players,” Socorro City Clerk Pat Salome said.