Typical of most times a team from San Antonio plays a Houston or Dallas squad they’re cast as the underdog. The lone exception to that year in and year out are the Texas D1 Ambassadors. This weekend at GASO was no different as they took on the best the DFW Metroplex had to offer as well as Houston. The road to the championship went through the Houston Lynx in the semi finals and eventually the Houston Hoopstars for the title.
Texas D1 Ambassadors 68 Houston Lynx 61
Texas D1 jumped out to an early double digit lead but the Houston Lynx just wouldn’t go away. The score was tied with 7 minutes to play before one decisive, final run put it away. Balanced scoring has been the order of the tournament for Texas D1. 2011 Cole Martinez (Air Force)18, 2012 Connor Lammert 14, 2012 Adam Perez 13 and 2012 Uche Ofoegbu 11.
Texas D1 Ambassadors 63 Houston Hoopstars 60
Anytime we strap it on with the Houston Hoopstars it’s a battle. They beat the Houston D1 squad back in the spring, and back to last summer the Austin D1 squad bumped them from this same GASO event. A pool play victory Saturday morning over the Hoopstars (minus Cameron Ridley who was at Adidas Nation) would not be easy to replicate. It’s hard to beat a good team twice, and especially so as they brought their McDonald’s All American candidate in for the final game.
For most of the first half the lead changed hands several times in a bruising, physical matchup. Then near the end of the half the Hoopstars went on a run, leading31-23 at the break. Midway through the second half the lead was 9 before Texas D1 started chipping away. The last three minutes, the lead swung back and forth by a point, eventually being tied at 60 with 1:30 left to play. With Texas D1 running a weave and holding the ball for the final shot they finally got the look they wanted. With 15 seconds left, San Antonio Catholic’s Cole Martinez did what he does better than anyone. The San Antonio Player of the Year let the three ball fly and snapped the twines. Bingo! The last 15 seconds were frantic and when all was said and done, the Hoopstars squad never did get off a shot attempt.
The game featured 3 campers from the recently completed Pangos All American Camp in Los Angeles. Cameron Ridley (Hoopstars), Uche Ofoegbu and Connor Lammert (Texas D1).
Cameron Ridley is everything they say he is, maybe even better. He’s made great strides under Coach Keith White and his upside is huge. As a Texas alum, I am excited to see him wearing burnt orange in the next year. Lammert does not have the notoriety or the overall game that Ridley has, but at 16 years old is developing rapidly. He has a special skill set too with his passing ability and being able to step out to the three point line. Even though Ridley dunked on him several times the youngster stayed composed and got a couple of his own including an impressive tomahawk off a loose ball on the rim.
Texas D1 received balanced scoring including 14 from Lammert, 14 from Alamo Heights Jeffrey Rodewald and 14 from Martinez. Ridley did his thing and had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead all scorers.
This is the Texas D1 Ambassadors 4th GASO Championship in the last 3 years. The credit always rests with the players but Coach Paul Josephs deserves a pat on the back for steering the ship. His calm demeanor and balance between calling sets at the right time, mixed in with giving the players some freedom to improvise makes this a dangerous team. SAT and ACT priorities kept us down to 6 and 7 players for the entire tournament, so the players really bonded together despite missing 6’7″ Shelby Lane and 6’5″ Aaron Ramirez. Both of them bring depth, size and toughness to the team as they head into July.
I’d like to give a shout out to my son, Chip who was 24 years old on Saturday. Without him this program would never have existed. Coach Chip Ivany’s squad won the Father’s Day tournament in 2009 behind Cody Doolin (San Francisco), Dylan Elias (Northern Colorado), Paul Garnica (Northern Colorado) and Deon Mitchell (Northern Iowa). Interestingly enough, all 4 of these guys are playing PG at the next level. Last year Coach Paul Josephs San Antonio squad behind the Lammert Brothers Connor and (Clark-TexasTech) won the GASO Spring Opener followed by Coach Mike Hardge’s Austin squad taking the 2010 title at the GASO College Station behind Eric McClellan (Tulsa), Jaleel Williams (San Jose State), Deon Mitchell (Northern Iowa) among others.