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Next Level teams have top three finishes at showcase events

Two Next Level basketball teams had impressive showings at the T.J. Johnson Showcase June 11-12 in Austin where each squad posted 3-1 records.

Next Level, which is located in Burnet, allows athletes to play different sports under their direction in tournaments across the state and country.

Next Level’s boys 16-and-under team won the championship thanks to beating Houston Kings 58-44. Next Level was second in pool play with wins against TWE Red 55-53 and Waco Warriors 53-51 but lost to State Elite DeShaun 71-59 in pool play.

Next Level’s girls team finished third thanks to defeating Houston United Coleman 68-48. In pool play Next Level beat Destined 4 Greatness 50-29 and San Antonio Infinity Green 48-33, but lost to Houston Queens Elite Purple 52-50 on a buzzer beater,

Next Level director and head coach Sonny Wilson was pleased with the results from both tournaments.

“The Houston Kings team is ultra talented,” he said. “We’ve played the best basketball we’ve played all year and lost to a very elite staff.”

The Next Level boys team included Judah Phillips of Faith Academy of Marble Falls; Roman Brown, Cooper Cochran, Garon Jones, Chase Richard, Jackson Truedau and Titus Willie of Marble Falls; Aiden Nuckles of Lampasas; and Luke Sanderson of Goldthwaite.

He noted State Elite DeShaun erased a six-point deficit thanks to getting “hot and streaky.”

“We made some young mistakes, and we learned our lessons,” Wilson said. “Every game came down to valuing possessions. We had to learn to play together. It’s all coming together. We’re really excited about our future with this club. We’ll be playing in college exposure events real soon. We’re getting to see what college talent looks like. It makes the boys more hungry. They’re showing up and working hard. We have a group that loves each other. It’s a great team to be apart of.”

Wilson pointed out that Queens Elite Purple won the championship by 19 points. To him the real championship game was between Queens Elite Purple and Next Level since both squads won their final games by almost the same point difference. Queens Elite Purple came from behind to beat Next Level on a shot “they threw up on a prayer and made it.”

The team consisted of Trinity Greenwell, Cydney Robinson, Zaria Solis and Sierra Schaffer of Burnet; Ellison Lehmberg of Faith Academy of Marble Falls; Ciara Hays of Llano; Bethany Fry of Marble Falls; sisters Flora and Lili Appleton of Richland Springs; and Ava Fernandez of San Antonio Churchill.

“We played really well at times,” he said. “We made some mistakes. We missed a lot of shots, we didn’t value possessions, and we couldn’t get it together. Last weekend was really weird and was a ton of buzzer beaters.”

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