The N.C. Hotshots Ballers travel basketball team played in nine tournaments this year and made the championship games in five of them, and recently went undefeated in the final tournament of the season winning the first two games by 12 points and 20 points, and then taking the S.C. Premier Basketball Summer Slam Championship with a 52-31 victory over the S.C. Thunder.
“Obviously, when you get to the championship games you’re playing against the best, most talented, and deepest teams in the tournament,” said Head Coach Seth Schmitt. “In our previous four-championship games we fought hard but came up short. This past tournament, the boys played very loose, had a great time, and everybody on the team contributed something to our championship as it was a total team effort.”
The N.C. Hotshot Ballers began three years ago in Highlands so players on the Plateau could get additional exposure playing competitive basketball outside of their school’s conference, said Schmitt.
“The goal was for them to work on getting better as players and as a team so that when they played our school teams, they’d be a little more prepared for the upcoming season,” he said. “The challenging part of playing travel basketball is that we’re putting together a team from a small town to go compete with teams from much larger cities from N.C., S.C., and Georgia.”
The team’s first season was a rough one with a 2-28 record. Things improved in the second year when they went 12-13 and made it to two championship games.
Coach Mike Carrier said the latest win was a combined effort and noted Dillon Schmitt and Ethan Tate keeping up the pressure on defense, Bill Miller consistently putting up shots and taking it to the hoop, Connor Briggs grabbing rebound after rebound, Garrison Chalker and Collin Stoltszfus draining jump shots, Jeffery Olvera with his speed and D, and Reid Carrier controlling the tempo of the game and draining three pointers when needed.
“All of their hard work paid off and it was obvious how happy they were based on how much they celebrated after winning the championship this past weekend,” said Carrier. “We’ve been telling them for the past three years that playing travel basketball is all about getting better for the Highlands School teams and it came together in the final.”
He added thanks were in order for all of the players and their efforts, the parents for their commitment to the team, Ryan Bears, Timo Dearth, Tim Briggs, and Ryan Gearhart for their help, and Coach Brett Lamb for his support; and special thanks to Coach Robert Soler of Hotshots Athletics for his guidance and leadership; and the team’s sponsors Art and Angela Williams Foundation, Tate Landscaping, and Progressive Medical Research.
By Brian O’Shea
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