By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
They’re coming together.
That’s what the kids say. It’s how they feel.
It’s how they play the game.
They play to win.
“We’re winning and I feel like we can make it a habit,’’ said Calae Wilson, the point guard for the Golden Circle Elite girls AAU basketball team.
It sure looks that way, especially after the way the GC Elite played in San Antonio last weekend. The Elite not only won the Prime Time AAU Tournament, going unbeaten at 4-0, but they didn’t have a close game, and won the title with a 61-49 win against Dallas Prodigy.
It’s been a rollicking fun summer for these kids who have now won two tournaments and finished second in another, losing the title game by just two points.
“It’s been a big summer for all of us,’’ said Ariel Bartee, a rising senior from Corsicana who is averaging 15 points a game for the Elite. “It felt great to win the tournament this weekend. We came out like we wanted it, and our demeanor was to go and get it.’’
They’re 11-1 so far this summer and they’re just getting started.
“It’s been a good summer, but it’s only going to get better,’’ said Elite coach Chris Baston, who has been coaching the team for five years. “The tournaments we go to in July are all NCAA sanctioned and there will be a lot of college scouts there.
The Elite are all high school players made up from kids from Corsicana High, Kerens High, Mildred High and Frost High. They literally have to come together from all over the Golden Circle area just to form the team, and they had to come together on the court.
“One thing that has played a big part in this team is their growth, their togetherness,’’ Baston said. “They are so much more together than they were a year ago. They have been working hard in the weight room, and they are so much tougher, and they are much better defensively.’’
Baston loves defense, and he believes he has the best defensive player in Texas in guard Sha-Sha Taylor, a 5-4 whirlwind from Corsicana who was the Daily Sun’s Defensive Player of the Year this season as a sophomore.
“She plays lockdown defense,’’ Baston said. “We played a team in San Antonio in the finals and they had a girl averaging 20 points a game, and Sha-Sha held her to two points. She shut her all the way down. She’s 5-4 and she can guard players taller than her and smaller than her because of her quickness.’’
That quickness can dictate a game.
“She can turn a game around, just like that,’’ Baston said. “We could be down by six and she can go on an 8-0 run by herself just by making steals and drives. I’ve seen a lot of basketball, and she’s probably the best defensive player I’ve ever seen.’’
The go-to-girl on the team is Kerens’ rising junior Breanna Wells, who was the Daily Sun’s co-offensive Player of the Year this high school season. Wells, a 6-0 post, is averaging a double-double this summer with a little over 11 points and 11 rebounds a game.
“I don’t even have words to describe her,’’ Baston said. “She’s awesome. She can play inside. She can score. She can rebound. She can defend.’’
While Wells and Jamie Reeves, a 6-1 post who Baston said has simply gotten better and better this summer, give the Elite an inside presence, Bartee has been raining 3s from beyond the arc. Over the weekend, Bartee went 12-of-15 from 3-point range, and Baston said she is “shooting the lights out.’’
Wilson runs the show, and Baston believes he has “one of the best point guards in Texas,’’ in Wilson, who has been on the team since she was a freshman and relishes the new-found winning.
“We have come a long way from a long road,’’ Wåilson said. “The first couple of years was really hard. When I was a freshman I had to run the team, and I really didn’t know how to do that.”
She savors every victory.
“When you lose a lot and winning starts coming you learn to appreciate it,’’ she said. “It feels good. It’s so much better, it is tremendously — way better. It just feels great to win, period.’’
Wilson’s a big part of it. She’s averaging 11 points and six assists a game, and is the leader on the court. She is being recruited by UT San Antonio, UT Arlington, Lamar and others, and not only loves winning but knows the secret of the Elite’s success.
“The difference is we have talent, attitude and heart,’’ she said. “We have talent because we’re always in the gym. They call us gym rats. I like that. I just don’t like the rat part.’’
The other members of the team are Mildred’s Shelby Adamson, a 5-11 forward who averaged six points and six rebounds over the weekend, Frost’s Joycelyn Roberts, and Corsicana rising sophomores Alexis Baston, Destini Lunsford and Kennady Betts.