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Ninth-grade team, The Most, caps youth basketball league with title

Photo by John Millikan

Photo by John Millikan

ALBANY -- Saturday afternoon wasn't the first time Brandon Dotson found himself on the sidelines of an Albany Youth Summer Basketball League championship game.

As coach of The Most -- an AAU team made up of rising eighth- and ninth-graders from Albany and surrounding areas -- Dotson came up just short the last two summers in title contests. This year, however, Dotson and his squad were able to bring home the championship trophy.

The Most stayed undefeated in league play this year with a 46-24 win against the West Side Wizards -- another Albany-based AAU team -- in the ninth-grade Division A championship game at Turner Gym, capping a six-week league that featured 19 teams of sixth- through ninth-graders.

The league, which is run by Albany State men's basketball coach Chris Cameron through his youth hoops organization, Chris Cameron Basketball, Inc., crowned five champions Friday and Saturday.

Also winning titles were Dougherty Middle School in ninth-grade Division B, Southern Squad in the seventh-grade division, Albany Elite I in sixth-grade Division A and Albany Elite II in sixth-grade Division B.

"This is a great opportunity for kids to get good, fundamental basketball and practice in and work on their game over the summer, and we are grateful for it," Dotson said. "This is good competition, and these are local games so their family and friends get to see them play. We compete nationally across the country, so we are also able to use this tournament as a tune-up."

In the ninth-grade Division A title contest -- which was the premier championship game -- The Most jumped out to an early lead and held on to a slim margin for the first three quarters. The Most then outscored the Wizards 19-8 in the fourth quarter to win the title going away.

"It took hard work, communication and good team work -- and also great coaches," said rising ninth-grader Andre Kennedy, who scored six points for The Most in the championship game and will be attending Westover High School next season. "These games gave us good experience and are very competitive."

It was the third straight year Cameron has hosted the league, which had eight teams in 2009 and 15 teams in 2010. This summer's lineup included AAU teams and developmental squads that were formed just for the league.

"We are trying to get the kids to continue playing throughout the summer time, which in my opinion is a valuable time," Cameron said. "The time for players and teams to position themselves to be successful is in the offseason."

Cameron also benefits from the tournament, as he gets an early look at the players through each team's seven regular-season games and the postseason.

"Middle school seasons are only 12 games, and we are playing seven to eight games in a six-week period. They almost get an opportunity to play two seasons in one year," Cameron said.