A group of rising freshman girls from the Germantown Lady Panthers basketball program are representing the Mid-Atlantic region in the Jr. NBA World Championship is a first-of-its-kind global youth basketball tournament for the top 14U teams from around the world.
The tournament features boys and girls divisions, each comprised of 16 regional champions (eight U.S. teams and eight international teams) that are competing in the inaugural championship this week at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando.
The Germantown Lady Panthers Class of 2022 team has won two of three games in pool play so far this week and are at the top of the table in their pool. The girls are heading into Friday’s first ground game in good shape.
Coached by Milt Kimbrough, the newly hired girls head coach at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, the Lady Panthers earned the right to represent the Mid-Atlantic Region in the World Championships back in June when the team overcame an 11 point deficit win the Jr. NBA Regional Title.
The Lady Panthers are led by Kiki Rice who has averaged 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, and 3.3 steals per game in the three games the team has played thus far. The 5-foot, 9-inch Rice attends Sidwell Friends School.
Rice and her teammates made won their first game this week defeating the champs for the Northwest region 59-50. Rice had 13 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals in the game which the Lady Panthers jumped out to a six-point lead in the first minute and never trailed. Rice shot four for six from the field, with three free-throws. Gabrielle Scott added 12 points, on four field goals, a free throw, and a three-pointer. The Germantown Lady Panthers outrebounded the Northwest champs 27-15 in the game and had 11 steals.
The girls split games on Wednesday, dropping the first but coming back with an overpowering win in the second game of the day.
The first game of the day didn’t go the way girls wanted. The Lady Panthers lost 43-38 in a tight game which featured two ties and six lead changes to the team from the South Region. After leading briefly in the first quarter, the South team opened up a 10 point lead in the second quarter. Rice led all scorers in the game with 20 points, and 15 rebounds, on seven field goals. She shot six for seven from the foul line. Kadidia Toure added eight points on four field goals.
The Lady Panthers battled back in the third to tie the game at 25 with 3 minutes left in the third period, leading to a fourth quarter which saw the lead change four times before the South team was able to build a five-point lead in the final three minutes of the game.
The team from Germantown came back later in the day with a 62-41 victory over the champs from the Midwest Region. After keeping it close for most of the first quarter, the Lady Panthers opened up a 12-point lead in the second quarter, thanks to a three-pointer from Simone Foreman. She would finish with 11 points. The Lady Panthers never looked back outrebounding the Midwest champs 44-29. Once again it was Kiki Rice who led all scorers with 21 points, on six field goals, six free throws, and a three-ball. She also had 14 rebounds.
Over the three games, the Lady Panthers are shooting 68 percent from the foul line and 37 percent from the field.
The girls will begin the First Round play on Friday against the champs from the Northeast region. The Northwest team is winless through three games in this tournament. If the Lady Panthers can win, they would face the either the West or Midwest champs on Saturday morning. A win in that game sends them to the U.S. Championship which will be televised on Fox Sports at 4:45 pm on Saturday. If the winning continues the girls from Germantown will play for the World Championship, which will take place on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 3:30 pm and be televised on Fox Sports.
Caption: Kiki Rice (11) is leading the Germantown Lady Panthers in scoring at the Jr. NBA World Championship in Orlando. The girls are 2-1 as the knock-out round begins later today.
Photo courtesy Joseph R. Fenelon, NYGHoops Report