Credit: Gorge Ball Golden Hoops

Warm spring and summer weather is a sign that New York City outdoor youth basketball has begun. Playground courts are a stage for various leagues and tournaments throughout the five boroughs.

Golden Hoops, a tournament held in Harlem, has been one of the first to take advantage of the COVID restrictions being lessened. They were anxious to get back to action last week after a two-year pause.

“We’re returning after the devastating and crippling ordeal that we’ve all endured over this last year,” said George Ball, Golden Hoops’ commissioner. “The pandemic shut us all down.”

Protocols were put in place for players and event staff during the 10-game tournament schedule. Game balls were changed every quarter. Player’s hands were sanitized, overseen by the tournament’s staff at the beginning of the game and at halftime. Everyone involved was temperature checked before the game.

“There were no complaints, and no one failed the test,” said Ball. The tournament was a four-day event which doubles as a high school showcase for college coaches in search of promising scholar-athletes. There were eight teams participating in the Golden Hoops tournament to open the spring season: Uptown United, Team Mega, Each One Teach One, Bobby Bingo B. Ball Club, Team Chah, Puerto Rico, Team Abbo and the Go Torey All-stars. All games were played at Each 1 Teach 1 Park on East 129th & Lexington Avenue, and Crack Is Wack Park on East 128th Street & Second Avenue. 

There were several outstanding performers and individual showings during the four days including Prince Kamate (Each 1 Teach 1) 21 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks; Brian Burke (Uptown United), 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 steals; Jaeshawn Felder (Team Mega) 17 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks; Elias Santos (Team Chah) 17 points, 18 rebounds and 2 blocks; Greg Garcia (Bobby Bingo B. Ball Club) 11 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists; and Jeremiah McKinney (Team Abbo) 13 points, 11 rebounds and 2 steals.

The group was selected to the All-Tournament team. The finals matched Uptown United versus the defending champions Team Mega, who was defeated by Uptown United, 56-48, in last Saturday’s final.