AVON — A year ago, the Adidas team of Avon-based National Basketball Academy won its third straight national championship.
This year, it brought home two more titles.
Competing in an age division for girls through high school senior, the area players won the Nike Midwest Showdown in Cincinnati and the Blue Chip Basketball USA Invitational in State College, Pa.
In Cincinnati, where they defeated a team from Georgia for the title, they were in a field of 32 teams in their division. At Penn State, there were 64 teams in the division in an international field of 304 overall. They defeated a team from Quebec for the championship.
Coach Kevin McNamara’s girls are more mature and more experienced this summer, and that will transfer to their progress when the high school season starts in November.
“We’ve grown a lot since last year,” said Alex Harris, Lorain’s 6-foot-3 junior post. “We’ve come together a lot. We know where each other are, we see the court better.”
Harris, who is being recruited by virtually every major Division I university in the country, said she has become a better shooter. And shooting, she said, was a skill she wanted to improve.
“We work on my shooting a lot here,” she said. “That translates to my shooting when the high school season starts.”
Even last summer’s tournament schedule benefited Brittney McNamara, Kevin’s daughter, who as a sophomore guard led Elyria Catholic to its first Final Four appearance last season.
“I’ve been in a lot of tournaments that were as big as the state game, so I wasn’t as nervous in the state game because of all my experiences before that,” McNamara said. “I have grown as a player because of that game in my basketball IQ and just in becoming more of a team player.”
As for the latter point, McNamara said she wants to have improved her ballhandling skills by the time the Panthers open their new season.
“I’ve been more of a shooter,” she said, “and I just need to be more confident in myself and my ballhandling. I just never handled the ball that much. Like last year, Emily (Taylor) handled the ball. For EC this year, I’ll have to take that role with ‘D’ (Danielle LoParo) so I can help the team out.”
Avon senior Emily Julius, who was sidelined with an injury in February, has fully recovered, although she said it was a slow process.
“It took a little longer to get back than I thought, but I feel 100 percent,” Julius said. “I feel a thousand times better than I did during my winter season. It also took a little while to get back the confidence in my game. It’s one thing to rehab and feel like you’re physically in shape, but it’s another thing to be mentally prepared to play basketball.”
The trio described its victory over the Quebec team for the Blue Chip Invitational title as “fun.”
“They’re from Canada, so they had different kinds of accents,” Julius said.
“They played really aggressively,” Harris recalled.
In the last three seasons playing a national tournament schedule, the Avon club has gone 108-18, with four national championships, a national runner-up finish and eight local or regional championships.
In the Nike Midwest Showdown this year, the club defeated teams from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana and Maryland. And in the invitational tourney at Penn State, it defeated teams from New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Missouri and Quebec.
Every player on the squad was named to one of the national all-tournament teams.
Team members are Harris, McNamara, Julius, Katie McNally of Rocky River, Katie Carroll of Westlake, Avon Lake’s Lacy LeDuc, Steph Haas and Megan Barilla of Magnificat and Morgan Dziak of Amherst.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.