FILA Nationals Championship: Cal Sparks Gold 56, Spiece Indy Gym Rats 46

Los Angeles/Long Beach-based Cal Sparks Gold ended the July recruiting period on a very high note yesterday, taking the FILA Nationals Championship 56-46 over Spiece Indy Gym Rats of Indianapolis.

The two teams battled evenly throughout the first half, as Spiece penetrated the key at will to score and the Sparks were grabbing rebounds and shooting well. But Spiece picked up their shooting and started nailing buckets, and the Sparks missed some key layups. Sparks’ center Reshanda Gray also had to sit out a significant portion of the period in foul trouble. Spiece was up 29-26 at the half.

In the second period Gray came back, and the Sparks started moving the ball faster. They stayed ahead by about 10 points for most of the half, and withstood a small Spiece run at the end, which briefly cut the lead to eight points.

Sparks Gold had just come off a tournament victory last weekend, when they took the Michael T. White West title at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. But the FILA win was even more impressive because they had only two-thirds of their team, as four players didn’t make the trip to Suwanee, GA.

“The girls did an incredible job of playing together as a team,” Sparks Coach and Director Elbert Kinnebrew said.

This was the first FILA Nationals win for the Sparks, whom Kinnebrew correctly prophesized last December as his “deepest team ever.”

Spiece Indy Gym Rats (red uniforms) point guard Bria Goss (13) begins a drive against Cal Sparks Gold in the first half of yesterday’s championship game….

….and penetrates for the score. Goss, the engine for her team, will be a senior this fall.

Gold point guard Ariya Crook-Williams (3) dishes to Kari Korver on the left wing.

U18 gold medalist Reshanda Gray (far left) lands on the ground after being fouled while putting up a shot.

Players from both teams wrestle for the ball in the second half.

Sparks Gold took a commanding lead in the second half. Here, as time winds down, Gray and Crook-Williams forego the press and wait for Spiece to inbound the ball.

FILA Nationals 2010 Champs Cal Sparks Gold, after their victory yesterday.
Bottom row: Kari Korver, Ariya Crook-Williams, Chante Miles.
Top row: DeAjanae Scurry, Erica McCall, Ta’Rea Cunnigan, Sparks Coach and Director Elbert Kinnebrew, Reshanda Gray, Janitah Iamaleava, assistant coach Matt Thaley.