Norbert Rome Jr., assistant basketball coach for the
Dillard Lady Bleu Devils, is no stranger to basketball. He also knows a thing or two about
winning. But he has never helped coach a
team to a national championship, until now.
Despite several attempts in recent years, the Angels
Basketball team overcame tremendous adversity during some very intense
basketball games as they were crowned 2012 11th Grade Division I AAU
National Champions in Orlando. Led by
head coach Denis Aidoo and assistant coaches Alton Clivens, Rome Jr. and his
younger sibling Norvell Rome, the team managed to battle through two crucial
games where they trailed by double digits in the second half to remarkably come
back and win.
After six straight wins in the tournament, Angels Basketball
entered the championship game and had to face the Saratoga Sparks. The 2012 11th Grade Division I AAU
National Championship Game, which was televised live on ESPN 3, was dominated by the post players Paije Hall (St. Thomas
More High-Lafayette) and the unannounced MVP, Kaitlyn Pratt (McDonogh 35-New
Orleans) of the Angels.
Pratt's size allowed her to shoot high percentage shots from
the paint as she also dominated the boards, marvelously collecting a
double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) in the championship game. Although the Saratoga Sparks produced a
valiant effort, it wasn't enough as Angels Basketball won the championship game
by the score of 53-46.
"We really believed we had a shot to win it all because
everything was falling in place at the right time," said Coach Rome Jr. "We came into this tourney without our star
point guard, Di'Mond Jackson (University High-Baton Rouge), and despite
injuries, we rode the wave as our bench stepped up huge and played a major
In the first round, the teams participated in pool
play. The teams were split into six
groups of four teams each, with the top two advancing. Angels Basketball breezed through the first
game with a 79-43 victory over Jacksonville Lady Tarheels.
However, their second game proved to be a rollercoaster
ride. In the first half, Angles Basketball
found themselves up by 10 points over Germantown Lady Panthers half, but after
a twenty point swing, they trailed by 10 points in the second half.
The Angles cut the lead down to three with less than 30
seconds to go and forced Jacksonville into a turnover on the following
possession. With just seconds remaining
in the game, Coach Rome's team buried a three pointer to face overtime where
they went on for the 55-52 victory.
In the third and final game of pool play, Angels Basketball
would cruise on to yet another easy victory, this time defeating Lady Shottas
by the score of 65-32. Their impressive
3-0 record in pool play earned them a first round bye as they advanced to the
Angels Basketball won its next game 64-60 against a
formidable opponent, N.M.B. Hoop Dreams Blue and eased its way into the final
four after a 56-45 defeat over Illinois Wolverines Elite.
According to Coach Rome Jr., the semi-final game versus Ohio
Lady Attack was the most challenging game throughout this AAU National
Tournament in Orlando.
"Their ability to drive and dish it to the three-point line
made it tough to stop them, especially when they hit almost all their shots,"
said Rome Jr. "We were down by 18 at one
point, and our coaching staff made a key substitution when we put in Alexandra
Seale (Ponchatoula High-Hammond) who is our lock down defender."
The Angels cut the deficit to 10 by halftime, and after a
tough third quarter, they trailed by only seven points entering the fourth
Ohio Lady Attack could feel the lead slowly slipping away
throughout the fourth quarter as the Angels applied heavy pressure on the defensive
end. With three minutes remaining in the
ball game, Angels Basketball's Kolbi Morgan (John Curtin High-River Ridge) buried
a three-point shot as the shot clock expired to tie the game. The 18 point deficit which seemed
insurmountable was overcome by the will to never give up as Angels Basketball
defeated Ohio Lady Attack 49-45.
"I really feel like Angels Basketball was very special,"
said Rome Jr. "The team was on board and
believed from the very beginning and had to overcome a lot of adversity throughout
the tourney in order to win the championship."
Sports Information Director
*Photo provided by Norbert