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Next Level Elite wins LoneStar Championship tournament

The Next Level Elite girls basketball team, consisting of high school athletes in the Highland Lakes, won the LoneStar Championship tournament April 22-24 at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington.

Next Level Elite defeated Proskills Houston 16U 54-41 April 24, the Arkansas Lady Rebels 37-9 and Oklahoma Aces 49-42 both on April 23, and Oklahoma Swarm 16U 44-42 April 22. Next Level Elite includes Lili Appleton, Lexie Edwards, Ava Fernandez, MaeSyn Gay, McKenna Kerns, Elleson Lehmberg, Sydney Lough, Sierra Schaffer, Kloe Shannon and Zaria Solis.

Gay of Burnet High School scored 23 points in the championship, while Edwards of Marble Falls High School averaged a double-double in points and rebounds during the tournament, head coach Sonny Wilson.

“MaeSyn was in that groove and mentality,” he said.

Wilson noted the most important part of the tournament, which drew teams from across the country including Puerto Rico, was playing in front of numerous collegiate and university basketball coaches and officials.

“It was a big college exposure event,” he said. “That was the first college exposure tournament for the girls in a stadium like this.”

Playing in tournaments in the offseason has many benefits. For those who want to play college basketball, it’s the best way to get in front of those coaches. Another benefit is the athletes are improving themselves, which helps their high school teams, Wilson said.

“We want to get them ready for their school teams,” he said. “And we’re giving them an opportunity to be picked up or looked at by a school on the next level. We want them to be the best high school players they can be.”

Next Level’s 15U team went 0-4 but played in an atmosphere and against players unfamiliar to its athletes. “They competed,” Wilson said.

Another athlete, Marble Falls High’s Tea Rodriguez, was playing for Austin Elite, and it won the U17 pool.

Next Level will play in about 10 tournaments in the next few months.

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