The Next Level boys select basketball team was within seconds of a earning one of the program’s biggest wins. Instead a charging call allowed nationally-known Sky High, a squad consisting of players 16 and younger, to escape with a 44-41 win last weekend.
The contest was part of the Lace Em Up tournament in Georgetown June 3-5 where Next Level finished with a 2-1 record. The Next Level players include Gabe Lopez and Tidus Willie, both Faith Academy of Marble Falls athletes; Roman Brown, Jamie Castillo, Cooper Cochran, Garon Jones, Noah Lyons, Chase Richard and Jackson Trudeau, all of Marble Falls High School; Pablo Flores of Johnson City; and Luke Sanderson of Goldthwaite.
“When we saw the teams in the tournament, we knew us versus Sky Hook was the main showdown,” Next Level director and coach Sonny Wilson said. “We were truly bucket for bucket with them the entire time.”
With 14 seconds left and Sky Hook leading 42-41, a timeout was called. Next Level stole the ball and was driving for the basket but was called for charge. Sky Hook made both free throws. Wilson called a timeout and drew a play. Sky Hook made a defensive stand to escape with the win. Despite the outcome, Wilson saw plenty to be proud of.
“It was indicative of where we are as a team,” he said. “We have kids who can play on the next level. We’re high energy, we get on the ground, and our defensive effort kept us in it.”
Wilson said Next Level exists for a couple of reasons. One is to help Hill Country athletes get better and get exposure for their talent in pursuit of an athletic scholarship if that’s what they want. The other is to return those athletes to their high schools with better skills and more confidence to help their teams shine.
“There’s a lot of hidden talent around here,” he said. “We want to keep kids in a good program and in a family environment. I’m real big on that. I want these guys (coaches) to get these kids back better than I found them.”
Next Level will be playing in the T.J. Showcase Friday-Sunday, June 10-12, in Austin. The event has 12 teams that will be put in three pools. Those results will determine the bracket.
“We’re definitely turning some heads,” Wilson said. “We’re high energy.”
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