The Division I, II and III teams took center stage as the NWBA Nationals continued
This title will always feel special to Jonah Daniels III.
After losing his dad, Jonah Daniels II, June 19 to a heart attack, the Lakeshore Storm player came up with a huge effort to propel his team to an Adult Division III championship Saturday afternoon at the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Toyota Adult & Junior Wheelchair Basketball National Championships.
Daniels scored a game-high 35 points and had eight rebounds to lead No. 2 seed Lakeshore to a 62-57 title game win over the No. 1 seed Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets at Wichita Hoops in Wichita, Kan.
The 20-year-old earned the Division III tournament Most Valuable Player award for that performance, but his thoughts turned to his father afterward.
“I’m winning it for my dad. It just means the world to me,” says Daniels III, a Birmingham, Ala, resident. “It means the world. I can’t wait to tell my momma [Theresa].”
Lakeshore (4-1) went 2-1 in round robin play, defeating the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers and Houston Rollin’ Rockets on Thursday before falling to Charlotte, 65-51, Friday afternoon. The Storm regrouped, defeating the No. 3 seed Houston Rollin’ Rockets, 49-36, in Friday’s semifinals to reach the title game and avenge the loss against the Rollin’ Hornets (4-1).
Daniels III went 13-for-23 from the field and 8-of-15 from the free throw line and added nine rebounds.
With the game tied at 53 and less than 3 minutes and 30 seconds remaining, he scored five of the team’s final nine points. That included a basket to give the Storm a 55-53 lead with 3:23 remaining, a pair of free throws to push the advantage to 61-53 with 1:16 left and one-of-two foul shots to give Lakeshore a 62-55 lead with 38.5 seconds remaining.
He could’ve stayed home and gone to the funeral, but he made the hard choice to play in the tournament instead.
“’Cause I knew it’s what he would’ve wanted,” Daniels III says. “I felt like it would push me a lot more to get a championship.”
Rashad Bennett also added 18 points and six rebounds for Lakeshore and joined Daniels III on the First Team All-Tournament Team.
Candice Law led Charlotte with 16 points, including 12 in the second half, while Preston Howelll and Landon Bennett scored 10 apiece and Donnie Langford added eight. All three players made the First-Team All Tournament Team, along with Charlotte’s Richard Travis (one rebound).
The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Sharks put together a biting defensive performance, and it led to the team bringing home the Adult Division II title Saturday afternoon at the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Toyota Adult & Junior Wheelchair Basketball National Championships in Wichita, Kan.
No. 1 seed Fort Lauderdale held the No. 2 seed ABC Medical Legends to just 19-of-56 shooting overall, forced 10 turnovers and rolled to a 73-45 Adult Division II championship game win. After losing its first game on an overtime buzzer-beater to the Detroit Wheelchair Pistons, the Sharks didn’t fall again.
Trailing 18-17 after the end of the first quarter, the Sharks (4-1) outscored the Legends (3-2) 26-7 in the second quarter.
It’s that defense that tournament Most Valuable Player Dirrick Hughes, who scored a team-high 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds, pointed to in the win.
“It was defense, straight defense. We say stick together, trust our defense and everything will fall down,” says the 37-year-old Miami, Fla., resident who has a spinal-cord injury.
Hughes made his six shots and went 10-of-13 from the field overall. But it was more than just him. Carlos Ocasio scored 16 points, while Troy Beckford added 14 points (hitting his first six shots) and teammate Arnold Barnes posted a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds.
As he received his Most Valuable Player award, Medical Legends players started chanting M-V-P, M-V-P.
“I told them to trust in each other — our shooting, playing defense, everything’s out,” Hughes says. “My teammates are awesome, man.”
Ryan Hynes led ABC Medical with a game-high 29 points, while teammate Karolina Lingyte added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Ocasio, Hynes and Lingyte all made the First-Team Division II All-Tournament team, along with Detroit’s Jesus Villa.
Bobbie Nickelberry Jr., carried the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks for most of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Toyota Adult Division I Wheelchair Basketball National Championship.
But when they needed a closeout punch, player/coach Jason Nelms delivered.
Nickleberry scored a game-high 40 points, while Nelms hit two clutch jumpers inside the last 2 minutes to give the No. 1 seed Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks a 76-67 victory over the No. 2 seed WASA (Milwaukee) Bucks in the Adult Division I title game.
Nickleberry scored 20 points in each half, dominated the game and was named the Adult Division I tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
But with Dallas hanging onto a 66-63 lead with less than 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Nelms gave the Wheelchair Mavericks a boost. He banked in a short right-side jumpshot with 1 minute and 59 seconds remaining to give them a 68-63 lead and added another jumpshot from a little further out to push the advantage to 70-65 with 1:20 to play. Nickleberry added a basket with 42 seconds remaining and two free throws with 33.3 seconds left to push Dallas’ lead to 74-65.
“Jason Nelms, he’s awesome. We’ve been playing together a long time. And I know anytime he gets into his position to get the looks that he wants, I can depend on him 1,000 percent,” Nickleberry says. “He took the shots, he hit them, he helped us close the game out at the end.”
The WASA Bucks’ Dylan Fischbach and Jeremy Lade scored 18 points apiece, while Ryan Glatchak had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jerome Meyer added seven points.
Dallas (4-0) won both its Thursday games over the NMCSD Wolf Pack (72-54) and Tampa Bay Strong Dogs (86-54) to get a bye into semifinals. The Wheelchair Mavericks defeated the Strong Dogs again (85-51) Friday to advance to Saturday’s championship.
The Bucks (3-1) defeated the Austin Rec’ers (77-67) and Kansas City Kings (94-42) Thursday, getting a bye into the semifinals as well, before knocking off the NMCSD Wolf Pack, 85-70, in Friday’s semifinals.
Nickleberry, Nelms and James Ross were each named to the Division I All-Tournament team from Dallas, along with Fischbach, Meyer and Jorge Salazar from the NMCSD Wolf Pack.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY
Daniel Graham Jr., had never hit a game-winning shot at this kind of national stage — or even of this magnitude. It left the 14-year-old BlazeSports Junior Hawks Junior Prep Division player beaming.
Graham rebounded his own missed shot and scored on an inside putback attempt with 2.6 seconds left, and the No. 7 seed BlazeSports Junior Hawks hung on to upset the No. 1 seed Kansas City Kings 31-29 in a Saturday morning consolation round game.
“Well, the whole thing was a blur,” says Graham, who has a spinal-cord injury tumor and severe spasticity issues on his left side. “I got in position. I was open. There was like 10 seconds left. I get the ball. I wasn’t expecting to get the ball, but I get it, I put it up, it misses. I get nervous. And I catch it. And I just, I put it back up, it goes straight in and It was like the greatest feeling. I don’t know how to describe it. It was amazing.”
It gave the Junior Hawks a chance to keep playing in the Junior Prep Division.
“I’m just proud of everyone on the court because it was a team effort. I mean I got the last shot, but, you know,” Graham says. “It wouldn’t have been possible without everyone that was on the floor, on the court.”
National Basketball Association Toyota Wheelchair Basketball National Championships
Adult Division I
Kansas City Kings 56, Austin Rec’ers 44
NMCSD Wolf Pack 66, Tampa Bay Strong Dogs 59
Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks 76, WASA (Milwaukee) Bucks 67
OKC Wheels Of Thunder 65, Detroit Wheelchair Pistons 27
Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Sharks 73, ABC Medical Legends 45
Houston Rollin’ Rockets 42, Cleveland Cavaliers 32
Lakeshore Storm 62, Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 57
No. 12 Lakeshore Lakers 45, No. 9 Seattle Junior Sonics 41
No. 16 Bennett Blazers 51, No. 13 ATX (Austin) 31
No. 5 Nebraska Red Dawgs 60, No. 8 RHI Racers 44
No. 10 BlazeSports Junior Hawks 64, No. 3 WASA Junior Bucks 43
No. 6 DASA Rollin’ Rams 39, No. 7 Kansas City Kings 31
No. 1 Cincinnati Dragons 53, No. 4 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 45
No. 14 Houston Hustle 57, No. 10 BlazeSports Hawks (White) 35
No. 11 ParaSport Spokane 47, No. 15 Dallas Junior Mavs 30
Championship — No. 1 Cincinnati Dragons vs. No. 2 BlazeSports Junior Hawks (Red), 12 p.m.
Varsity Invitational Division
MS Wheelcats 44, OKC Wheels Of Thunder 15
MS Wheelcats 47, Music City Thunder 14
Music City Thunder 31, OKC Wheels Of Thunder 25
Championship — No. 1 MS Wheelcats vs. No. 2 Music City Thunder/No. 3 OKC Wheels Of Thunder, 10 a.m.
No. 3 New York Rollin’ Fury 32, No. 4 Dallas Junior Mavs 29
No. 7 BlazeSports Junior Hawks 31, No. 1 Kansas City Kings 29
No. 6 RHI Junior Racers 18, No. 9 Cincinnati Dragons 17
No. 3 New York Rollin’ Fury 25, No. 7 BlazeSports Junior Hawks 24
No. 8 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 21, No. 9 Cincinnati Dragons 8
No. 5 Lakeshore Sharks 40, No. 2 WASA Junior Bucks 26
No. 2 WASA Junior Bucks 29, No. 3 New York Rollin’ Fury 24
No. 8 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 30, No. 6 RHI Junior Racers 28
Championship — No. 5 Lakeshore Sharks vs. No. 2 WASA Junior Bucks, 8 a.m.