An elite girls basketball team based in Kansas City defeated a squad from Canada 72-35 Sunday for the girls Jr. NBA Global Championship at ESPN’s Wild World of Sports in Orlando.
The Missouri Phenom “Central Team,” comprised of 13- and 14-year-old girls from KC and the surrounding region (Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas), finished the week-long final stage of the NBA-organized event with a 7-0 record.
Coached by Nick Bradford, the Central Team beat the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and West region teams to reach the Global Championship final, where Overland Park’s S’mya Nichols, Chloe Clardy of Conway, Ark., Jada Williams of Blue Springs and Topeka’s Kiara Smith scored a combined 43 points to secure the victory over Canada.
Nichols, who competed and helped the Central Team win this tournament last year as well, also won the tourney’s Respect Award.
The U.S. West region’s boys team beat Africa 70-61 for the boys title. Both the boys and girls championship games were televised nationally on FOX.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, three-time NBA champion and Jr. NBA Global ambassador Dwyane Wade and New Orleans Pelicans executive and former WNBA All-Star Swin Cash presented the winning teams with trophies in ceremonies following each game.
Thirty-two boys teams and 32 girls teams competed during the annual tournament in Florida. Countries or regions represented included Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe and the Middle East, India, Latin America and Mexico.
U.S. teams, meanwhile, represented eight regions across the country: Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and West.
The final rounds in Orlando capped months of competitions that included more than 15,000 young players from 75 countries around the world.
“Just meeting all the WNBA and NBA players was all a great experience,” Williams, the Central Teamer from Blue Springs, said. “Learning about how to take care of your body and nutrition, it was just a great weekend. Thank you to Jr. NBA.”