Earlier today, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in the United States published the Division III National Tournament Rankings. The rankings see the Wisconsin Thunder ranked first, the Turnstone Bandits ranked second and the Carolina Tarwheels ranked third.
The Wisconsin Thunder are back on top after losing that position. In the past month, they have had several practices, with a specific eye on preparing for nationals. They have been training at Wauwatosa School District and Lake Country Lutheran High School. Early in the month, they played a pair of games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing both including one by a score of 41 – 51. On the last day of February, they lost another pair of games to the team, going down 63 – 77 and 42 – 57.
In early February, the third ranked Carolina Tarwheels participated in the Capitol Wheelchair Basketball Invitational where they came away with a first place finish. Earlier this month, they won the Southeast Regional Conference after beating a number of ranked teams on their way to victory.
The fourth ranked NRH Ambassadors competed at the Carrousel House tournament in Philadelphia earlier this month, beating Connecticut in their first game of the tournament. In February, they hosted the Capitol Wheelchair Basketball Invitational, where they finished third behind the higher ranked Tarwheels and lower ranked Rimriders. They beat the Virginia Beach team 47 – 27, beat twenty-second ranked beat Pittsburgh Steelwheelers 53 – 37, beat Philadelphia 46 – 43, lost to the Tarwheels 47 – 55, and beat Philadelphia again 61 – 40.
The fifth ranked Miami Heat Wheels team includes Carlos Martinez, Dirrick Hughes, Eduardo Thompson, Jackson David, Jairo Mendez, Jeremie Thomas, Luis Amaro, Manuel Rodriguez, Mario Moran, Marvin Valcourt, Miki Erez, Orlando Carrillo, Raul Acosta, Ryan Galvez, Willy Rodriguez, Almelio Pena and Jose Prado. The team has a real international feel with players born in the United States, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Israel, Venezuela and Cuba.
Like other clubs, they have been practicing lately with the national championships in mind. In mid-February, the team won the 4th Annual Orlando Magic Wheelchair Basketball All Star Invitational Tournament. They beat the Jacksonville Brooks Ballers 63 – 25, and the Fort Lauderdale Sharks 62 – 53 on their way to victory. Dirrick Hughes was quoted by his team as saying after that tournament, “Great games this weekend Miami Heat Wheels. Tournament Champs! Last stop on the #RoadToNationals. Shoutout to my brothers, my teammates – let’s stay focused. One unit. One team.”
The sixth ranked Richmond Rimriders finished second at the Capitol Wheelchair Basketball Invitational in early February. The twelfth ranked Charlotte Rollin Hornets competed at the Southeast Regional Conference earlier this month. They narrowly beat the seventeenth ranked Georgia Hawks. They then beat the fifteenth ranked Fayetteville Flyers. In their third game, they lost to the third ranked Carolina Tarwheels. Earlier this month, the fifteenth ranked Fayetteville Flyers played in the Southeast Regional Conference, where they lost to the twelfth ranked Charlotte Rollin Hornets.
Earlier this month, the seventeenth ranked Georgia Hawks played in the Southeast Regional Conference, where they lost to the twelfth ranked Charlotte Rollin Hornets. They ended up in finishing second in the South West division and fourth overall. Orlando V Perez came away from the tournament winning the All Conference Team Trophy, along with teammates Jason Rainey, Melido Mir, and Chris Pearson. Johna Sutton was named the Conference Coach of the Year. Melido Mir was named the South West division MVP.
The eighteenth ranked Fort Lauderdale Sharks competed at the 4th Annual Orlando Magic Wheelchair Basketball All Star Invitational Tournament in mid-February, losing 62 – 53 to the Miami Wheel Heat. The twenty-second ranked Pittsburgh Steelwheelers competed at the Capitol Wheelchair Basketball Invitational in February, losing 53 – 37 to the fourth ranked NRH Ambassadors.
|1. Wisconsin Thunder|
|2. Turnstone Bandits|
|3. Carolina Tarwheels|
|4. NRH Ambassadors|
|5. Miami Heat Wheels|
|6. Richmond Rimriders|
|7. San Antonio ParaSport Spurs|
|8. London Forest City Flyers|
|9. Detroit Diehards|
|10. Memphis Rollin’ Grizzlies|
|11. TIRR Houston Hotwheels|
|12. Charlotte Hornets|
|13. CRS Hotwheels|
|14. Tampa Strong Dogs|
|15. Fayetteville Flyers|
|16. Music City Lightning|
|17. Georgia Hawks|
|18. Ft Lauderdale Sharks|
|19. Magee Spokesman|
|20. Tusla Rollin’ Roustabouts|
|21. Moraine Minutemen|
|22. Pittsburgh Steelwheelers|
|23. Portland Wheelblazers|
|24. Seattle Sonics|