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High Schools

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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Jaquan Lyle of Evansville Bosse shoots during the Gym Rats Basketball National Championships on Sunday at Spiece Fieldhouse. More than 200 teams from 15 states traveled to Fort Wayne to compete.

Spiece, Gym Rats wrap up tourney

– The Gym Rats Basketball National Championships wrapped up another successful summer of AAU and youth basketball for the Gym Rats organization and Spiece Fieldhouse on Sunday.

“The tournaments have been very good, and the talent has been very good,” Gym Rats director Todd Hensley said.

More than 200 teams from 15 states converged on Spiece and other gyms around Fort Wayne over the past four days to compete for national titles among the elite all-star high school teams.

At the GRBA nationals, players included Bryson and Brenton Scott of Northrop, Jaquan Lyle of Evansville Bosse, Trevon Bluiett of Park Tudor, Demetrius Jackson of Mishawaka Marian, James Young of Troy, Mich., and Kendall Stephens of St. Charles, Ill.

Not only was there top talent on the floor, but top college coaches were there to watch the recruits. Coaches included Purdue’s Matt Painter, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Michigan’s John Beilein and Kansas’ Bill Self.

The tournament is the second half of the national championships, as the third- through seventh-graders played July 6-8. That tournament drew 100-plus teams from a dozen states.

The AAU circuit includes several stops in Fort Wayne, with the attendance holding steady despite the tough economic times.

“The economy has affected us a little over the last three to four years,” Hensley said. “A trend that has been around since the economy went into the tank is regionalized events where teams might travel to five events during the season, and this year it is two to three. And more people are starting to do events in certain areas of the country where there aren’t as many national teams. It has regionalized a little bit, but obviously we offer a good product and good competition and have a good regional network. We have been able to sustain it pretty well.”

Gym Rats Basketball has been around for 20 years, started by Bill Hensley, Todd’s father, and Gerald Hirschy. The organization has been housed at Spiece Fieldhouse, owned by Tom Spiece, since the early 2000s.

“I am not sure people realize Tom (Spiece) and Bill (Hensley) were the creators of national events here in the city,” Todd Hensley said. “I don’t believe they get the credit they deserve. Fort Wayne is not a destination city, so to have teams from California come here, it’s not because Fort Wayne is the destination, it is because of Spiece Fieldhouse and the Gym Rats and the reach we have. It’s great to have it here because if you are a basketball junkie, you don’t have to go very far.”

gjones@jg.net

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