COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - The month-long journey of the inaugural 2019 Toyota National Wheelchair Basketball Championship Series concluded last weekend in Chicago, and with it wrapped up the NWBA’s 70th season. For those you who missed any of the marquee matchups, here are recaps of each tournament’s bracket, awards, and championship games:
Adult Division I
2019 Toyota National Adult Division I Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical
#1 New York Rollin’ Knicks defeat #7 Milwaukee Wheelchair Bucks, 69 - 52
Defending their national title and capturing a third in the past six seasons, the New York Rollin’ Knicks are the NWBA Adult Division I National Champions after defeating the Milwaukee Wheelchair Bucks. The Rollin’ Knicks finished the 2018-19 NWBA season with an undefeated record of 23-0. Player of the Championship Game Pat Anderson of the Rollin’ Knicks scored a tournament-high 46 points and took home the Tournament MVP award.
The final score doesn’t reflect how competitive the game was, as the Milwaukee Bucks rolled out a lineup featuring three gold-medal Paralympians, including Nate Hinze, who finished with 17 points, and Becca Murray with 14 points of her own. The Bucks roster also showcased two members of the 2019 NWBA Hall of Fame Class in Mel Juette and Christina Ripp-Schwab.
Adult Division II
2019 Toyota National Adult Division II Wheelchair Basketball Tournament
#6 Toronto Rollin’ Raptors def. #1 Los Angeles Hotwheels, 54-46
The Toronto Rollin’ Raptors became the first team from Canada to win the NWBA Adult Division II National Championship. The Raptors received a strong first half from Kady Dandeneau, leading all scorers with 27 points in the game. The Hotwheels received 16 points from Mexico National Team member Julio Fonseca.
The Hotwheels held a five-point lead heading into the final quarter, but the offensive performance from Raptors’ post-player Daiusz Symonowicz pushed Toronto over the top. Marc Antoine, head coach of the Toronto Raptors, also coaches the Canada Women’s Senior National Team. He most recently coached them to a fifth-place finish over the U.S. Women (6th) at the 2018 IWBF World Championships in Hamburg, Germany last August.
Adult Division III
2019 Toyota National Adult Division III Wheelchair Basketball Tournament
#6 Auburn Tigers def. #5 Ability 360 Phoenix Suns, 57-54
The final game of the 2018-2019 NWBA season left fans stunned, playing out as one of the best games of the year. Bryan Foley hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 7 seconds left, and the Auburn Tigers rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Ability 360 Suns, 57-54. This marks Auburn's first Adult Division III National Championship, and the first championship game appearance for either team.
Foley won Championship Player of the Game and Tournament MVP honors with his 33-point performance in the finale. Luis Raygoza, the leading scorer for the Suns, poured in 27 points and functioned as the fulcrum for his team’s offense throughout the game. The Suns stayed competitive with contributions from Richard Reed (16 points) and Stephen Hernandez (11 points). Raygoza, Reed, and Hernandez each earned All-Tournament nods, but their Big 3 was enough to secure the trophy. Jared Rehm, a key contributor for the Tigers, pitched in 16 points and several clutch assists.
2019 Toyota National Women's & Juniors Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical
New Lenox, IL
#1 WASA Lady Bucks def. #2 PossAbilities Shield Maidens, 68-52
This championship game was a rematch of the close semi-final match-up from the previous day, in which WASA Lady Bucks also won 55-51. Both teams featured U.S. Paralympians, including Natalie Schneider of the Lady Bucks. Schneider ran amok on the Shield Maidens’ defense, dominating in the paint and forcing players into foul trouble in the second half. She claimed the Player of the Game award with a total of 27 points. Other leading scorers for the Lady Bucks included Paralympians Becca Murray and Christina Schwab both with 18 points. Murray, Schwab, and Schneider scored all 23 points for the Lady Bucks in the 4th.
The Shield Maiden offense was led by Courtney Ryan in the first half with 14 points, and Rio Paralympic gold medalist Megan Blunk in the second half with 12 points. Both players finished with 16 total points.
University of Alabama def. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 69-65
This game was a repeat of the matchup in last year’s national championship game, in which the University of Alabama also won with a 69-65 defeat of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The UW-Whitewater Warhawks looked to the hot hand of Dylan Fischbach, totaling 33 points, 13 assists, and 2 rebounds. Dequel Robinson accounted for 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 14 assists for the Crimson Tide, claiming the Player of the Game title.
The transition offense for Bama helped to create open layups or opportunities at the foul line. The Crimson Tide visited the charity stripe a staggering 27 times in the game. Michael AuPrince scored 27 points, snagged 17 rebounds and accounted for 6 assists for the Tide. Christian Seidel and Brian Wofford of each had 13 points for UW-Whitewater.
University of Alabama def. University of Texas-Arlington, 82-76
The Mavs got a stellar performance from Rose Hollermann with game totals of 40 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. The exceptional offensive repertoire from UTA's Arinn “Juice” Young shined as she recorded a triple-double for the game: 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The “shot of the tournament” goes to Alabama's Katharina Lang who hit a well-contested 12-footer with 6 seconds remaining to knot the game at 67-67.
In overtime, the Lady Movin’ Mavs had to make a lineup change when 2016 Rio gold medalist Abigail Dunkin fouled out of the game midway thru the overtime period. Other Lady Movin’ Mavs finding double digits were Dunkin and Australian young phenom Annabelle Lindsay, both with 12 points. Aside from Young’s performance, the Crimson Tide received great offensive output from Katharina Lang, with 24 points and Rosalie Lalonde with 12 points.
The University of Alabama claimed both the men’s and women’s national championships at the 2019 Toyota National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, the first time in Alabama program history both titles were captured in the same year.
2019 Toyota National Varsity Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical
New Lenox, IL
#2 WASA Jr. Bucks defeat #1 TIRR Memorial Hermann Jr. Hotwheels, 84-73
If you like fast-paced, high-scoring action, then the Varsity National Championship game is worth rewatching. The highest game in Junior division history was a momentous win for the WASA Jr. Bucks, who won their first national championship in program history. The loss snapped a 66-game win streak spanning three years for the TIRR Memorial Hermann Hotwheels. Thomas Oberst scored 40 points for the Bucks, the most ever in a Junior Varsity championship game. His record-setting performance earned him Player of the Game and Tournament MVP honors.
2019 Toyota National Prep Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical
New Lenox, IL
#2 Bennett Blazers def. #1 Minnesota Rolling Rowdies, 48-35
In their first championship appearance, the Bennett Blazers defeated Minnesota Rolling Rowdies to claim their first national championship title. Blazers’ member James Pollard was the Player of the Game with a total of 30 points across the 4 quarters. Nick Deyo had the most points for the Rowdies with a total of 14 points. Though the Blazers came out strong the first quarter and held the lead the whole game, the Rowdies’ Jack Binsfeld kept the game exciting with 9 points of his 16 points coming in the 4th. This loss especially stung for the Rowdies, who dropped their second championship game in a row.
2019 Toyota National Varsity Invitational Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical
New Lenox, IL
#21 Nebraska Red Dawgs def. #18 RHI Racers, 50-39
The Nebraska Red Dawgs earned a tournament championship in the Varsity Invitational after defeating RHI Racers, 50-39. The Red Dawgs last saw a chance at a Varsity Invitational tournament title in 2016 but fell to the Richmond Sportable Spokes. The RHI Racers last saw the championship floor in 2015 when they defeated the Phoenix Jr. Suns in the Varsity Invitational tournament.
The title of Player of the Game goes to Justyn Newman of the Nebraska Red Dawgs with 24 points. Maya Campbell also hit double digits for them with 18 points. Hannah Exline led the RHI Racers in the first half with 8 points, and her teammates Daniel Clements and Timmy Dowell picked up the slack in the second half with 14 and 13 total points, respectively.
The 2019 Toyota National Championship Series was graciously supported by title sponsor, Toyota Motor North American. Thank you Toyota for all your support in making these championships a reality..."Let's Go Places".
Thank you to the local organizing committees (LOCs) for each event that was part of the series. The LOCs included: Division of Disability Resources & Educational Services part of the College of Applied Health Sciences at University of Illinois (Intercollegiate Division); Tim Fox, NWBA Board of Director, and Will Waller, NWBA Board of Director, (DI & DII); Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (Women's & Juniors); and Chicago Park District and Shirley Ryan Abilitylab (DIII).
Thank you to ABC Medical as the presenting sponsor for various events in the series. Special thanks to all the other NWBA partners that made the series possible including Nike, Molten USA, RGK Wheelchairs, Per4Max, Spinergy, Invacare, Eagle Sports Chairs, ABLENow, Nugevity, and Stacksports.
Thank you to all the host cities and communities for their hospitality to NWBA members and fans throughout the series. Thanks to the local sponsors and supporters of each event, your contributions did not go unnoticed!
Thank you to all NWBA Board of Directors and Divisional Leadership for their efforts from start to finish on these events. We greatly appreciate your selfless assistance throughout the preparation and implementation of the series.
Thank you to all the tournament personnel for their work, including classifiers, floor officials, facility/venue staff and EMT/medical staff.
Thank you event volunteers for your time assisting the NWBA during these events. The countless hours served by volunteers throughout this series were truly the lifeline for the success of these events. Thank you, volunteers!
Lastly, thank you to all NWBA members! We hope your season was fruitful with success/wins, and not just on the scoreboard. We look forward to hosting you all next year for the 71st season of the NWBA and the 2020 Toyota National Championship Series!