5 Star NIT Basketball Tournament: Two Local Teams Take Home Titles
Sun. July 08, 2012 at 11:47 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
BY LISA COFFEY
WINTER HAVEN | Three local youth basketball teams set the stage for the future with strong performances in the 5 Star NIT basketball tournament Sunday at the Polk State College Health Center.
The Winter Haven High School and Florida's Finest teams won their respective age groups while the Haines City junior varsity team reached the final of their division.
Both the Winter Haven and Florida's Finest teams improved on sluggish summers with first-place trophies.
The Blue Devils' varsity team defeated the Gateway High School team Sunday 67-53 after going 4-6 in the local summer high school league.
Sunday's victory was a boost.
"They are much better than that," said coach Tyrone Woodside of the summer record. The Blue Devils have eight returning players from last year's varsity team, including three starters.
"It's just human nature," Woodside said. "They want to prove they have something left. We had a little hangover. I think the summer league grounded them."
Sophomore Darius James led Winter Haven with 22 points and 14 rebounds to make the All Tournament team.
The Florida's Finest team is comprised of at-risk inner city youths out of the Lakeland Boys and Girls Clubs with four teams.
A.J. Outlaw paced Florida's Finest with 15 points. Taye Green added 12 points.
Most Valuable Player Torrian Hampton scored 11 points and added six boards.
Markel Woods also added 11 points and was elected to the All Tournament team.
The Haines City team fell to Wekiva 67-58 in the junior varsity championship.
Bryan Whittingham and Carlos Manning were named to the All Tournament team for the jv Hornets.