The majority of seventh-grade students are focused on baseball or football in August, but a team of Cape Coral basketball players will take aim for a national basketball title this weekend.
The High Hoops NEO basketball team will join teams from five other regions of the United States for the National Tournament of Champions in Kansas City, Kan., this Friday through Sunday.
The Cape Coral team qualified for the national tournament, sponsored by the U.S. Sports Specialty Association (USSSA), after winning the Southeast Region tournament in Gainesville on June 27-30.
Russ Deverteuil’s team captured the seventh-grade Division 11 title with a 7-0 record and will join boys and girls teams in 10 divisions.
The team has played together for three years in the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department Youth Basketball League. The team started as fifth-graders, compiling a 6-8 record before improving to 21-14 the next year.
The High Hoops squad finished the 2013 season with a 31-10 record, going 20-0 while winning tournaments in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers and Gainesville.
“They have stayed together for three years and now jelled well as a unit,” said Deverteuil, who is assisted by his wife Amy, a former basketball player at the University of Michigan, and Chris Casey.
“Of course they can’t wait to play in Kansas City but I have no idea what to expect,” Deverteuil said. “No team from Florida has ever won a USSSA title and this year we have our team plus two eighth-grade teams from Ocala and Treasure Coast.
“The boys work hard and we do our best to not only coach but teach the game of basketball with its many nuances to our players,” said Deverteuil, also a certified personal trainer.
“We’re very good defensively with size and skill at point guard and center,” Deverteuil said. “We have very consistent role players and get scoring from all of our players at any given time.
“We can be a little inconsistent at the free throw line and our offensive rebounding is not as good as it should be,” Deverteuil said.
“Most of our players were found in the Parks and Rec program, in my opinion one of the best in the country,” Deverteuil said.
Players include Noah Brittenham, St. Francis School; Gabe Casey and Tyler Feikert, Oasis Middle School; Earl Hocking and Jamhel Myers, Gulf Middle School; Eddel Martinez and Chris Ramsey, Trafalgar Middle School; and Dakota Deverteuil and Jacob Tracey, both home schooled.