This past weekend, the top 8th grade teams in the country competed at the AAU 8th Grade Division 1 Nationals in Orlando, FL. A number of New England teams made the trip down south, including Expressions Elite and Expressions Elite North. Between the two squads was a total of 8 HEA alumni, all of whom played vital roles in there teams respective success.
Expressions Elite finished pool play in impressive fashion, defeating Carolina Tide (NC), Emerald Coast Soldiers (FL), and Louisiana Bayou Flames (LA) each by a near 30 point margin. After finishing first in pool 8R with an undefeated 3-0 record, Expressions Elite earned a spot in the Championship Bracket. Expressions Elite beat Enplay Elite (TN) 73-55 to advance to the Sweet 16, before losing a hard fought battle to Milbank Flyers (NY) 71-79. With that lose, Expressions Elite dropped into the Consolation Bracket, beating Team Heat (NC) 83-41, and Southern Elite (LA) 85-80 in an overtime thriller to end the squads run at Nationals as a top 15 team in the nation. Among the many players that impressed were Jermaine Samuels and Kimani Lawrence, who proved themselves to be among the top 8th graders in the country. Expressions Elite received additional contributions in the front court from forwards Jordan Hardwick and Jamari Johnson. Guards Azar Swain, Shyheim Hicks, Charles Mitchell, Charlie Mitchell, Lawrence Sabir, and Anthony Kelley all made significant contributions to the teams overall success.
Expressions Elite North found themselves in a tough Pool 8G to start off the competition. The North squad fought its way through pool play finishing 1-2, losing two close games to X Factor Black (UT), and Atlanta Celtics (GA), and a win against Gainesville Kings (FL). Having finished 2nd in pool play, Expressions Elite North advanced to the Championship Bracket, losing in a defensive struggle to the Lauderhill Lions (FL), 26-55. After the loss, the North squad dropped its final contest to SMAA Trojans (FL), 50-68 to close out their run at the Nationals. Among those who impressed for Expressions Elite North was the backcourt trio of HEA alumni Marcus Zegarowski, Michael Odiana, and Isaiah Holmes. Additional backcourt help came from Cameron Ray and Jarron Santos, while the front court received a boost from Max Zegarowski, Eddie Alcantara, and Bo Millet.