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X-PRESS girls basketball teams ready for nationals

July 04, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Twenty-six area athletes will take to the basketball court as members of the X-PRESS girls 17-under and 15-under teams heading to the Youth Basketball of America National Championships this week in Alexandria, Va.

The tournament's opening ceremonies were held Saturday at West Potomac High School. Both X-PRESS teams open play today.

The tournaments - featuring 10 17-under teams and 14 15-under teams - are comprised of squads which won Youth Basketball of America state championships. Teams from as far away as Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Maine will participate.

"These are all teams that are champions in their state, so the competition will be stiff," said Earl Redden, the coach of the X-PRESS 17-under team and the director of operations for the Tri-State Youth Athletic Association, an organization formed two years ago which serves as the base for the X-PRESS. "For the girls to get this opportunity, they wouldn't get it any other way."

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The highlight of the week is the YBOA All-Star games, to be played Wednesday at MCI Center in Washington before the WNBA's Washington Mystics play the Seattle Storm.

Four X-PRESS members will play in the All-Star contests - North Hagerstown's Chelsea Clark and Hedgesville's Miranda Reed in the 17-under game, and Hedgesville's Lauren Ashton and Ashton Butler in the 15-under game.

"I've never done anything like this before, and it's exciting for our team because they've never done anything like this before," said Clark - a Herald-Mail All-Area First-Team selection after averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Hubs last season - during a team practice at the Hagerstown Boys and Girls Club on Friday. "I'm looking forward to it. There will be a lot of good competition, and it's great exposure as a player and for all of us."

"It's definitely different for all of them," Redden said. "Ashton Butler has never seen a professional game, and now she'll see one and get to play on the same floor on the same day."

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