Four teams in a recently formed youth basketball league will travel to a national competition this weekend.
The National Junior Basketball All-Net Sequoia chapter was formed from scratch just two years ago after splitting with the nearby Redwood chapter. But already, four chapter teams — the seventh-grade girls’ team and the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade boys’ teams — have reached the All-Nationals, which will take place at Cal State Fullerton from Friday through Sunday.
Sequoia All-Net Director Tim McGrath, also an assistant coach for the fifth-grade boys, heavily recruited quality coaches. Former Duke and USC starting point guard Rometra Craig, for instance, coaches the seventh-grade girls’ team.
That team’s victory in the regional title came with an unusual twist, when the Palo Alto team was disqualified under league rules because their coach forgot the team binder. The two teams played anyway, and the Sequoia girls showed their sportsmanship when they gave up their first place trophies after the Palo Alto girls won the game 39-36.
“You usually don’t see that other side,” Sequoia assistant coach Andy Missan said of the emotional awards ceremony.
Under the tutelage of head coach Dele Sobomehin, Sequoia’s seventh grade All-Net boys’ team enters weekend competition with a 12-3 record, all while sporting a high basketball IQ. While only a first-year coach at Sequoia, Sobomehin knows some of his players from coaching at the Redwood NJB chapter.
“What we’ve been able to build is real special,” he said. “They’ve been able to elevate their game and meet the expectations I have.”
Sobomehin, whose brother, Tunde, coaches the undefeated fifth grade boys’ All-Net team, is in his third overall year of coaching at NJB.
Sequoia’s sixth grade boys’ team will also trek down to CSU Fullerton, sporting an undefeated record with head coach Chuy Flores and assistant Frank Huerta at the helm.
After posting a .500 record last season, the sixth-graders went 3-0 in the playoffs to earn their ticket to nationals.
“We just wanted to qualify,” Huerta said. “Now, we’re gonna play like we have nothing to lose … we’re already winners.”
With about 25,000 kids playing in NJB from a combined six states, roughly 1,000 will participate in the All-Net tourney starting Friday. Each team can play a minimum of four games and a maximum of seven.