The Top Dogs, a travel basketball team based in Thomson, recently finished second at the United States Basketball Association (USBA) National Championship.
The tournament was held in North Charleston, SC, from Wednesday, July 13, through Saturday, July 16.
Stan Howard, head coach and director of the team, said the team was comprised of fifth-grade boys from McDuffie County and some from Columbia County.
He said it was quite an accomplishment to finish second for a team that hasn’t been together very long, only about seven months.
“It definitely was incredible,” Howard said about their run at the USBA National Championship. “I’m definitely proud of them.”
The coach said competing was a great opportunity for the boys because of the competition they got to face. The way the team performed at the tournament also showed Howard that his team has a lot of heart.
“We didn’t really get challenged in previous tournaments,” Howard said. “They were pushed the whole time they were there.”
He said the team showed a lot of fight, as well.
Howard said this team has played in about 10 tournaments together, winning a title in seven of them.
The coach said he hopes to get his team a shoe sponsorship next.
“The goal is to try and get a shoe sponsorship,” Howard said, but even more importantly, he wants to help get his players to college.
In the meantime, he wants to get them playing on a bigger stage.
Howard said he enjoys the opportunity to teach his players life lessons and serve as a mentor.
“That’s why I love it,” Howard said about coaching. “I get the chance to be a role model or mentor.”