FROM STAFF REPORTS
Aurora -- The local Power Hoops Amateur Athletic Union basketball program has had success in its inaugural season.
Power Hoops, founded by Aurora residents Walter and Lori Bonner, has seven teams competing from grades 3 to 8.
"We are built on teaching kids fundamentally sound basketball while weaving in as many life lessons as we can," said Lori, adding Power Hoops has 65 families involved in the Aurora, Hudson and Twinsburg areas, and as far away as Jackson and Euclid.
Having only a few tournaments under their belts, teams have earned a championship and qualified for the national tournament.
"It's been a great season so far," said Lori. "We have such an amazing group of players, families, coaches and advisers who support Power Hoops. It feels great to see the kids come together on the court, compete and have fun. This is why we were created."
The Easter Classic in Garfield Heights was the first milestone for the new AAU program. The squad went 5-1, losing by just a few points to take second place.
That team is led by coaches Donald Jolly and Walter Bonner, and Jolly said he is impressed that the team never backs down and keeps fighting until the end. "The ball movement, defense and team morale is amazing to see at such a young age," he noted.
Even though the fifth-graders lost in the final game, they qualified to play in two national tournaments in Cleveland and Myrtle Beach, S.C. "The players were pretty upset when they lost, but their energy level quickly shifted when they learned they qualified for nationals," said Jolly.
Meanwhile, the third-grade team captured the program's first championship trophy in TNBA's Westside Classic.
"It was a great game," said coach Johnny Montello, a former Aurora High School varsity player, about the title contest.
Power Hoops played a TNBA team for the championship and the game was tied at halftime. Power Hoops players came out in the second half and turned up the offense.
"Ryan Piech and Charlie Hesse hit a couple of 3s and the team fell into a groove, ultimately coming out on top," said Montello. "The team, with players from Aurora and Stow, has really come together and they are so much fun to work with.
The third-graders also are coached by current Greenman player Pavel Galchenko.
Power Hoops also has played in some high-level tournaments in Columbus, Northeast Ohio and Michigan. The teams will continue to play through June, and in July will compete in various national tournaments.
Anyone wishing to help sponsor the program should contact Lori Bonner at firstname.lastname@example.org