New champions were crowned at the third annual NIBROC 3-on-3 basketball tournament Saturday, and just as in 2014, this year’s champs had to defeat the tournament’s previous winners in order to take home the first place trophies and $400 in cold hard cash.
Former Corbin Redhound Josh Crawford returned to NIBROC last weekend in hopes of defending his 3-on-3 championship crown. He and teammates Blake Buckman and Jared McClain were able to advance back to the finals, which is where they came up against the team of Aaron Cunningham, Cejay Jones and Corey Shelton.
The championship game was ultra-competitive, but in the end it was former Williamsburg Yellow Jacket and soon-to-be Union Bulldog Shelton who sunk a three-point shot to give his team the 24-19 victory.
“This was a fun tournament,” Shelton said after receiving his first-place trophy and share of the prize money. “I felt like it was more competitive than in the past. When championship time comes things can get physical. It was tough, but I’m glad that we were able to win. I’m glad to have the money.”
Shelton’s team, The Gators, went undefeated through pool play and bracket play en route to their championship win. In all, they won seven games by a combined score of 172-95. Each game, with the exception of the championship, was first to 24 points wins. The championship was first to 24, but the winning team had to do so by a margin of four points.
Jones, a former Williamsburg basketball player and current senior at University of the Cumberlands, said he had a great time during his first-ever NIBROC 3-on-3 experience. “They called and asked me if I wanted to join the team last night,” he said after Saturday’s championship victory. “I was all for it. I’ll play basketball anytime, anywhere.”
Cunningham, another WHS alumnus, has been a part of all three 3-on-3 tourneys, and in that time he says that he has seen the annual event continue to grow and become more competitive. “The competition has definitely gotten a lot better,” he said. “I look forward to coming back and seeing what kinds of teams we’ll be playing against next year.”
Shelton, Jones and Cunningham all vowed to return to the NIBROC 3-on-3 tournament for its fourth installment in 2016.