Women Take Gold With Dominating Performance At FIBA Americas U18 Championship
Using a suffocating defense that held opponents to an average of 50.8 points per game, the 2006 Women's U18 National Team defended its gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship For Women June 28-July 2 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. By finishing in the top four in the tournament the USA qualified for the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship, which will be held in Bratislava, Slovakia. The gold medal was the third consecutive, and fourth overall, for the U.S. at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
The ball-hawking defense head coach Doug Bruno of DePaul University, along with assistants Carol Owens of Northern Illinois University and Jennifer Rizzotti of the University of Hartford (Conn.), urged the team to employ forced the U.S. opponents to average shooting just 25.9 percent from the floor throughout the tournament. The defense was also aided by a fast-breaking offense which outscored its opponents by an average of 40.3 points per game.
'This is a great group of young women, and they've been together for what seems like a long time, but it's only been two weeks. And they've hopefully learned some things here,' Bruno said after the team won gold. 'They've been great to coach, they've really been a pleasure to be around. They're young so there's still some values of the game that have to be taught, but they're still some great young people.'
The 2006 USA U18 National Team included Jayne Appel (Carondelet H.S./Pleasant Hill, Calif.); Victoria Baugh (Sacramento H.S./Sacramento, Calif.); Kelley Cain (St. Pius X H.S./Atlanta, Ga.); Tina Charles (Christ the King H.S./ Jamaica, N.Y.); Nikitta Gartrell (Benjamin E. Mays H.S./Lithia Springs, Ga.); Stefanie Gilbreath (Cinco Ranch H.S./Katy, Texas); Jantel Lavender (Cleveland Central Catholic H.S./Cleveland, Ohio); Italee Lucas (Centennial H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.); Maya Moore (Collins Hill H.S./ Lawrenceville, Ga.); Kayla Pedersen (Red Mountain H.S./Fountain Hills, Ariz.); Brittainey Raven (North Crowley H.S./Fort Worth, Texas) and Khadijah Rushdan (St. Elizabeth H.S./Wilmington, Del.).
The U.S. began the tournament on a positive note with a 121-56 win over Paraguay on June 28. The team was led throughout the tournament by different players every night, but against Paraguay it was a combination of Baugh and national player of the year Charles. Baugh tied a USA FIBA Americas U18 Championship record with 13 rebounds and contributed 14 points for the U.S., while Charles led the team in scoring with 20 points and also brought down 10 rebounds.
In the second match-up on June 30 the U.S. took it to Brazil, winning 75-48 behind outstanding efforts from Rushdan and Pedersen. Rushdan dished out nine assists, which tied a USA FIBA Americas U18 Championship record and Pedersen led the team in rebounding with 12, while also scoring eight points.
The U.S. then handled Argentina 81-47 on July 1 in the semifinals to advance to the gold medal game. Leading the way on that night was Moore's all-around effort, which produced nine points, nine rebounds and four assists. Additionally. Rushdan paced the U.S. offense with 14 points on the night.
In the gold medal game the U.S. proved early on that Canada was outmatched as it cruised to an 87-52 victory on July 2. Leading the way to claim the gold medal was Charles with her second double-double of the tournament with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Also contributing in a big way in the gold medal game was Lucas scoring 11 points and dishing out six assists.
'I think that this was a very positive experience, I learned a lot from my teammates and coaches,' said Moore after winning the gold medal. 'Being able to be at this facility, we had the best of everything as we were training. It was just a really positive experience.'
The 2006 USA U18 National Team members made their mark all over the USA U18 Qualifying Tournament record book for individual and team records set in this event. As a team the 2006 squad broke U.S. records for highest rebound average with 66.2 per game, and most blocks per game with 8.8 per game. Individual U.S. competition records were set by Charles and Rushdan. Charles set the record for highest rebound average in this tournament by averaging 9.5 rebounds per game. Rushdan set the record for highest assists average in this tournament with 6.0 per game. Also placing in the top five for a certain category were Appel, Baugh, Cain, Lucas, Moore and Rushdan. Appel ranks tied for second for highest rebound average with 9.0 per game, and ranks tied for third along with Cain for most blocks averaged with 1.8 per game. Baugh ranks fifth for highest rebound average with 8.0 per game, and Lucas ranks second for highest free throw percentage at 87.5 percent. Moore ranks tied for second for highest steals average with 3.8 per game. Rushdan also got into the record books by shooting 44.4 percent (4-9 3pt FGs) from the 3-point line, which ranks third, and averaging 3.0 steals per game, which ranks fifth.
The U.S. paced the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship by placing in the top two in 17 statistical team categories in the seven-team tournament. The U.S. led the tournament in 14 statistical categories, including scoring offense (91.0 ppg.); scoring defense (50.8 ppg. allowed); scoring margin (+ 40.2); field goal percentage (.421 ); free throw percentage (.674); rebounding offense (66.2 rpg.); rebounding defense (33.5 allowed pg.); rebounding margin (+ 32.8); blocked shots (8.75 bpg.); assists (19.5 apg.); steals (17.0 spg.); turnover margin (+ 6.25); assist/turnover ratio (0.86) and offensive rebounds (30.25 pg.).
The U.S. also had individuals scattered all over the statistical leader board among the 84 participating athletes in the tournament. The U.S. had seven of its 12 players finish among the top thirty leading scorers for the tournament, led by the 12.0 ppg. Charles averaged. Also finishing in the top 30 were Appel (7.0 ppg.), Baugh (11.8 ppg.), Cain (6.5 ppg.), Lucas (10.8 ppg.), Moore (9.5 ppg.) and Rushdan (11.0 ppg.). The U.S. had three of the tournament's top 10 rebounders in Charles (9.5 rpg.); Appel (9.0 rpg.) and Baugh (8.0 rpg.). The top three leaders in field goal percentage were all Americans, which was led by Baugh (.606); Cain (.579) and Rushdan (.571). Rushdan also led the tournament in assists (6.0 apg.), also in the top 10 was Lucas (3.0 apg.), ranking ninth. Lucas and Rushdan were also the tournament's assist/turnover ratio leaders as Rushdan (1.85) was first and Lucas (1.71) was second. The U.S. also had two of the top three steals leaders in Moore (3.75 spg.), who was second and Rushdan (3.0 spg.), who was third. In addition, Appel and Cain tied for the tournament's lead in blocks (1.75 per game).
Individually the U.S. had two players post tournament game highs in a certain category. Charles shot 80.0 percent (8-10 FGs) from the field against Paraguay to lead all players, and Rushdan's nine assists against Brazil was also a tournament high.
While this team qualified for the 2007 U19 World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia, 2007 will again feature a trials and training camp that will bring in more players to compete for a chance to make the 12-member USA U19 Women's National Team.