Perfect Finish For ATX Austin

ATX Austin Finishes Undefeated, Wins NWBA Junior Prep Division Title

ATX Austin Finishes Undefeated, Wins NWBA Junior Prep Division Title

ATX Austin finished its National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Junior Prep Division wheelchair basketball tournament perfect. And its two twin towers, along with its defense, helped the team get there.

Junior Prep Championship Game Most Valuable Player Kooper Hernandez scored a game-high 17 points and had seven rebounds, while Hunter Mastaler added 15 points and seven rebounds to lead No. 2 seed ATX Austin to a 38-29 Junior Prep Division championship game win over the No. 5-seeded Bennett Blazers on Sunday afternoon at Henrico Sports & Events Center in Glen Allen, Va. With the victory, ATX Austin finished the season 30-0.

Kooper Hernandez, No. 55, takes aim during the championship game at the 2024 NWBA National Wheelchair Basketball Championships. (Photo by Christopher Di Virgilio).


ATX Austin coach Tim Allen says the team’s defense helped them ride it out.

“Our defense is what won this championship for us. We pride ourselves on defense. We say defense wins championships. And there’s not a better defensive team in the country than ATX, and we truly believe that,” Allen says.

Bennett, which had knocked off the No. 12, No. 4 and No. 1 seeds, rallied in the first half. Down 16-12 with less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds to go in the second period, Bennett closed it with a 6-0 run to take an 18-16 lead at halftime.

But ATX Austin clamped down and held the Blazers to just 13 points the final two quarters. Bennett made just 5-of-23 field goal attempts in the second half and its top two scorers — Landon Brown (12 points and nine rebounds) and Spencer Davis (10 points and eight rebounds) — were held to a combined six points in the final two quarters.

ATX Austin went on a 7-0 run spanning the last third of the third quarter and half of the fourth quarter. Miles Lynn scored all four of his points during that run, while Mastaler had three of a three-point play.

James Allen added two points and three rebounds for ATX, while Maynor Alejandro Zapet had one rebound.

For Bennett, Liza Robbins added five points and five rebounds, Penelope Miller had two points and four rebounds and Owen Stewart had two rebounds.

Lakeshore Repeats

Jackson Horne provided just about everything for the Lakeshore Lakers inside the final 3 minutes of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Junior Varsity wheelchair basketball championship game. That included clutch steals, points, assists and a couple of free throws late to help the top-seeded Lakeshore hang on for a 60-51 victory over No. 2 seed Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets Purple.

Jackson Horne competes during the championship game at the 2024 NWBA National Wheelchair Basketball Championships. (Photo by Christopher Di Virgilio).


Horne, who was named the Junior Varsity Championship Game Most Valuable Player, finished with a game-high 26 points and added seven rebounds, including five points and two steals, inside those final 3 minutes to help net the Lakers their second consecutive Junior Varsity Division title.

Jakarius Kemp added 18 points and six rebounds. Zane Goodwin had six points and nine rebounds, Jian Jackson had six points and Daniel Pittman added four points and six rebounds for Lakeshore.

Lakeshore coach Savannah Gardner thought their “humble and hungry” attitude paid dividends Sunday.

“That’s what we went into today with — was knowing we were doing it for our team, not for the applause. So, the college coaches here, the fans, the refs, the people watching online — none of it mattered. Our past games against them didn’t matter. We were doing everything for ourselves and our team — our unit of nine,” Gardner says. “And then I knew that if we went into it with the attitude of ‘humble and hungry’ that we were going to come out of it with a win.”

Charlotte went inside early and often to its two tall players — Kaden Bagley (double-double of 25 points and 19 rebounds) and Alexander Forstner (14 points and seven rebounds) — to take a 29-28 halftime lead.

Lakehore answered — going on a quick 12-2 run to open the second half and then later increasing its lead to 50-37 with 9:31 remaining before Charlotte stormed back. The Rollin’ Hornets Purple went on an 8-0 spurt, and Bagley cut the deficit to 50-45 with a basket with 5:37 remaining. Kemp and Horne scored back-to-back buckets to increase Lakeshore’s lead to 54-45 with 4:03 left before Charlotte trimmed the deficit to just three, 54-51, after an Adam Smith basket with 2:40 left.

Then, came Horne’s time. He grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled and made both free throws to put the Lakers up five with 2:23 to go. Then, he recorded a steal and later added a basket off a Kemp assist to put Lakeshore up 59-51 with 1:46 left. He and Kemp each made one free throw late to ice the game. Lakeshore forced Charlotte into five turnovers in the last 2 minutes.

“We had a talk in the huddle, had to pressure the ball ‘cause they were throwing it to Kaden in the middle. Once we started pressuring the ball, it made the pass harder, and we were able to capitalize off of that,” Horne says.

Smith added 10 points and three rebounds for Charlotte, while Noah Lewis had two points and two rebounds and Sadie Absher had one rebound.

DASA Does It, Wins Title For Earney

For the DASA Rolling Rams, this title was for Gabe Earney.

One of their former starters, he was diagnosed with leukemia partway through the season. So, coach Bob Portell had to change his lineup a bit, players stepped up and they rolled their way into the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Junior Varsity Invitational Tournament and their second straight championship game win.

No. 21 seed DASA forced the No. 18 seed Ryan Martin Foundation Trojans into 25 turnovers and had three players finish in double figures as they dominated in a 46-22 Junior Varsity Invitational title-game win Sunday afternoon.

“So, the game’s for him, darn championship’s for him. We started our season and then he got leukemia and been battling it,” Portell says.

Trailing 12-11 with less than 6 minutes remaining in the first half, DASA took over thanks to one long 22-0 scoring run.

With Ryan Martin Foundation trying to slow down Brett Forbes and Skyler Chadwick inside along with Benjamin Rees’ driving ability, the Rolling Rams went to their two female players — Mia Balella and Josephine Portell.

Over the next 12 minutes and 53 seconds (the final 5:40 of the first half and 7:12 of the second half), DASA went on its run. The Rolling Rams scored 16 straight points to close the first half and six more to start the second before a Zacherius Delgado basket ended it with 12:48 to go. Josephine Portell scored eight of her 11 points during that run, while Balella had four of her six during it.

“Our two ladies, Josie and Mia, had to pick up, and that’s really what I think separated the game then ‘cause they kind of left them open. And I told them, ‘You have to step up and you need to finish it there,’” Bob Portell says. “So, that’s a good deal.”

Benjamin Rees, left, attempts to gain control of the ball during the NWBA National Wheelchair Basketball Championship game. (Photo by Christopher Di Virgilio).

Rees scored a game-high 12 points and added eight rebounds and was named Championship Game Most Valuable Player. Chadwick added a double-double with 11 points and 18 rebounds, while Josephine Portell (11 points and eight rebounds) also scored in double figures. Forbes had six points and 13 rebounds and Balella added five rebounds. Dominic Herrera added one rebound.

Delgado (10 points and 17 rebounds) and 2023 SPORTS ‘N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year award-winner Matthew Reid (10 points and five rebounds) each scored in double figures for the Trojans. Gavin Ford (two points and six rebounds) also scored for Ryan Martin Foundation, while Sarah Reid (four rebounds) and Greyson Beauregard (two rebounds) also contributed.

Juniors Varsity Invitational Division Sunday Day 3
Seventh-Place Game

No. 20 Kansas City Kings Varsity B 49, No 23 Roger C. Peace Rollin’ Tigers 25

Fifth-Place Game

No. 19 Nebraska Red Dawgs 59, No. 24 Adaptive Sports Ohio Cavaliers 51

Third-Place Game

No. 17 Mad City Badgers 46, No. 22 Mary Free Bed Junior Pacers 39


No. 21 DASA Rolling Rams 46, No. 18 Ryan Martin Foundation Trojans 22

Prep Division
13th-Place Game

No. 13 Lakeshore Sharks 26, No. 15 Cincinnati Dragons 23

11th-Place Game

No. 11 RHI Junior Racers 42, No. 12 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 25

Ninth-Place Game

No. 7 WASA Marquette Eagles 36, No. 9 Fairfax Falcons 26

Seventh-Place Game

No. 10 BlazeSports Junior Hawks 24, No. 8 Kansas City Kings 21

Fifth-Place Game

Dallas Wheelchair Junior Mavericks Blue 36, No. 3 Mary Free Bed Junior Pacers 29

Third-Place Game

No. 6 New York Rollin’ Fury 38, No. 1 LWSRA/Synergy Hawks 35


No. 2 ATX Austin Wheelchair Basketball Team 38, No. 5 Bennett Blazers 29

Varsity Division
 15th-Place Game

No. 15 WASA Marquette Eagles 62, No. 16 Fairfax Falcons 56

13th-Place Game

No. 12 Brooks Bullsharks 46, No. 11 Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks Blue 44

11th-Place Game

No. 13 RHI Racers 43, No. 14 Junior Road Warriors 31

Ninth-Place Game

No. 9 Rancho Halos 70, No. 7 Kansas City Kings Varsity A 65

Seventh-Place Game

No. 5 Courage Kenny Junior Rolling Timberwolves 46, No. 10 Utah Rush 42

Fifth-Place Game

No. 6 LWSRA/Synergy Hawks 58, No. 8 BlazeSports Junior Hawks Red 44

Third-Place Game

No. 3 Bennett Blazers 73, No. 4 New York Rollin’ Fury 49


No. 1 Lakeshore Lakers 60, No. 1 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets Purple 51

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