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Kings learn from nationals

LEXINGTON, KY – In most people’s lives there are events they will never forget.

Maybe it was the first kiss or the first dance.

For the players on the Immanuel Kings 11-and-under team, going to play at the Kentucky Basketball Academy in Lexington, Kentucky in the Amateur Athletic Union National Championship may be one of those events.

The national championship tournament ran from July 22-29.

The Immanuel Kings started the tournament in pool &uot;D&uot;, playing for a spot in the championship bracket.

The Kings beat Team Bucky Lee, the Maryland state champions, 33-27, in their first game.

In their second game, the Kings defeated the Wisconsin Wizards 47-42.

Their first loss of the tournament came at the hand of the Richmond Stars of Kentucky; the score was 51-49.

The Kings placed second in their pool and earned the right to play in the championship bracket.

In the first round of the championship the Kings lost to Bowie Magic of the Potomac Valley District 60-37.

The Kings then played in the loser’s bracket and lost to the Hoops City Heat by a score of 53-25.

&uot;Finishing in the top 30 is a blessing, especially going from winning two games the year before,&uot; Ernest Cooley, the director of the Immanuel Kings program, said.

The Immanuel Kings program is about more than basketball and their time in Kentucky included more than just basketball.

&uot;Going to the nationals is what you’re striving for,&uot; Cooley said.

&uot;Once you get there you want to win.

You get to utilize all the things you were taught.

&uot;You get to ask questions and meet people in different careers,&uot; he added. &uot;It’s not just basketball; you get to utilize all the other stuff.&uot;

The Kings’ program includes workshops on the importance of Christ in boys’ lives and on understanding their roles as men.

They also attend workshops on gang violence, finances, health and hygiene, and teenage pregnancy.

&uot;When you teach someone something and they give it back to you, it shocks you and makes all the difference in the world,&uot; Cooley said.

All the workshops aim at encouraging and helping players to graduate from high school and attend college.

While at the tournament, the Kings toured Asbury College, a Christian college in Wilmore, Kentucky.

During the tour the players met Asbury’s Athletic Director Gary Kempf and discussed the importance of college, college life, and what is required of a student athlete.

The Kings attended an AAU conference about setting priorities and keeping academics first and participated in a workshop on Christian values.

They also visited several historic sites, and went to a dam.

&uot;It was a mentoring program,&uot; Cooley said.

&uot;The boys were excellent on the court and off the court, there were no discipline problems, and they were open to learn.

They seemed appreciative and in awe of seeing a different environment.

Going back to the motto [It’s not the destination but the journey], this is a journey that will make them men.&uot;

Success on the court is a drawing card for the other aspects of the program and successes on and off the court build off each other.

The program started with just Cooley and one team but has expanded to three teams and multiple coaches now.

&uot;God is good and we just continue to be blessed,&uot; Cooley said.

The Immanuel Kings would also like to thank their many friends and sponsors who made donations this year.

Donations were made by: Senthia Newsome, Hunters Funeral Home, Lionel Whidbee Funeral Home, Raven Deloatch, Edward Treadwell, Rajan, Mark Dellesega, Bennie Jarvis, Stephen Kincaid, Med-Conn, Unique Healthcare, Chapel Hill Church, Julie Shields, Tennessee Steal Haulers, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

They appreciate the support of AAU, YBOA, and State Games this year.