Rebecca Greenwell lifts Flight
No. 6 player in Super 60 scores 25 points to lead team to Nike Nationals crown
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- It took Rebecca Greenwell a few seconds to decide which of her three Nike Nationals crowns she likes best. But it took no time at all for the 6-foot-1 wing from Owensboro, Ky., to make her intentions of winning that third championship with the Tennessee Flight known.
"I think this one (is better) because I'm going to be a senior and this is my last game," said Greenwell, the No. 6 player in the Super 60 for the 2013 class. "It feels good to go out on top. It feels pretty awesome."
With her Flight team down 17-14 to Boo Williams after trailing for the opening eight minutes of the game, Greenwell played up to her five-star rating, scoring the final 17 Flight points of the half. That burst of buckets included a 7-0 run that put the Flight up 26-22, a lead they never gave up en route to a 68-61 win.
"Once I don't miss for a while I kind of feel like I will make everything I shoot," Greenwell said. "So this is just kind of one of those games."
Greenwell scored a game-high 25 points, but she was far from the only star on the floor in a Flight uniform. Rising junior Alexa Middleton of Murfreesboro, Tenn., ran the point against intense pressure from the Boo Williams defense and scored 12 points, including four critical free throws in the final minute of the game.
"I just knew I had to be more of a leader," Middleton said.
A big part of that necessity was an ankle injury to teammate Tyisha Petty three weeks ago. Petty was in a protective boot and didn't play the entire tournament until coach Tom Insell inserted her into the game with 8.8 seconds to play and the outcome decided. Teammate Olivia Jones grabbed a rebound and gave her the ball to hold for the final buzzer, and Petty tossed the ball 20 feet into the air to celebrate.
When Boo Williams jumped out to an early lead, it was the No. 2 player in the 2013 class, Kaela Davis of Buford, Ga., who scored five of the Flight's first six points to keep game within reach until the shooters got going.
And then there is the team's unsung star, Nina Davis of Memphis, Tenn. The 6-1 forward had the chore of guarding 6-3 Jatarie White. With the Boo defense focusing on the big guns, White worked the glass and ran the baseline and finished with 14 points.
But all that said, the afternoon was Greenwell's again, just as it was back in April when she won the Most Valuable Player honor at the Boo Williams Spring Invitational -- her first event back after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament. She was a member of all three Tennessee Flight teams that have won Nike Nationals, first in 2008 as seventh-grader, in 2010 as a sophomore where she was chosen the MVP, and, fittingly, once more as a senior.
"I told Nike last night, if we win tomorrow, Rebecca Greenwell has to be the most celebrated player ever to play Nike basketball, hands down," Insell said. "There might be other great players that play Nike, but to do what she's done is unbelievable."
So the sun sets on another summer circuit of travel basketball, and 2012 will go down as the year of Flight School. The U17 team won both Boo Williams and Nike Nationals, and the program's U15 team won the Nike Junior championship with a 62-54 win over Boo Williams U15.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.