The Carmel Pups Gold third-grade basketball team got a boost by playing against older competition.
“We actually moved up into a fourth-grade league because we were beating up all the third-grade teams,” coach Vinod George said. “We got better because we kept playing fourth-grade teams. That helped us out.”
George said that prepared his travel team for the inaugural Great Lakes States Basketball Championship. Carmel Gold won the title March 28 by beating Lucasville Valley (Ohio) 41-16 in the championship game. Other states represented in the tournament were Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri. The 2021 Indiana state championship was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teams qualified for the Great Lakes tournament by placing first or second in an official qualifier tournament or league. There were championships for boys and girls in grades third through eighth grade. The games were played March 26 to 28 in Spencer, Bedford and Bloomington.
The team was 5-0 in the Great Lakes tournament, winning all the games by 20 points or more.
“Our team and Center Grove are probably the two best third-grade teams in Indiana. Center Grove didn’t play in this tournament, but we did so we’ll take it,” George said.
George’s team finished with a 41-8 record.
“The boys had great chemistry,” George said. “This is the second year they’ve played together but a lot of boys have been playing since they were 5 years old. It’s great to see them put it all together. They played for each other. Our defense is our staple. It’s tough to score on us when we are playing defense the way we can.”