Bainbridge basketball team earns No. 1 state, national rank

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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A group of Bainbridge fourth graders just became the best basketball team in America.


The Bainbridge Thundercats is a 10U AAU basketball team in town. They competed at the Youth Basketball of America (YBOA) Georgia state championship this weekend. The team finished first in the tournament and was crowned state champions over two days of competition.

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In the wake of the tournament, the YBOA released updated team rankings. The Thundercats ranked as the number one team in Georgia — and the nation.


“I’m excited because I know how hard those kids have put the work in to get better,” head coach Justin Strong said. 


But the Thundercats hit a road bump on the first day of the tournament. The team lost both of its games that day due to a few of their key players missing the game, according to Strong. He said the losses gave the players a chip on their shoulders. 


“We was the underdogs,” Strong said. “Our motto to the kids was just that we keep fighting, we don’t give up till the last whistle is blown.”


The underdog Thundercats would go on to play perfect on Sunday — the last day of the tournament. In the championship, they routed the current No. 2 team in the state by more than double. Dedra Williams, the mother of a Thundercats player, said the car ride home was loud with celebration from her son.


“I had to tell him the entire time ‘be quiet,’ Williams said. “He was celebrating,… it was all over the place, it was joyful.”


The Thundercats have the YBOA national championship next in July. The message to the team until then: “Stay level headed and everything else will fall in place,” Strong said.