The Crescenta Valley-based basketball organization Full Force participated in the Santa Barbara Swoosh March Madness Tournament the weekend of March 13-14 held at the UC Santa Barbara Thunderdome. Sixty-nine teams from central and southern California participated in the tournament’s boys and girls divisions fifth grade through high school. Full Force sent its 12U team and its two 14U teams to Santa Barbara for the tournament. The 12U and the 14U Full Force Gold teams battled throughout the weekend and made it to the semifinals before being eliminated. The 14U Full Force Black team, coached by Michael Gayle, went 3-1 over the weekend to win the eighth grade/14U championship.
In its semifinal game, Full Force Black defeated The Basketball Factory 50-28 with Coach Gayle’s signature full court press and a balanced scoring attack in which six players scored six or more points. In the championship game, Full Force Black soundly defeated a tough Paso Robles team which had eliminated Full Force Gold, coached by Crescenta Valley High School graduates Jeremy and John Sampang, in the semifinals. Full Force Black again utilized its quickness and aggressive defense to induce hasty shots and turnover after turnover on its way to a 54-37 victory. Center/forward Jake Beck led the FF Black scoring attack with 25 points.
“I am extremely proud of all our boys. They have been working hard for a long time. Some of the boys have been with me for nearly two years and it is really awesome to see them progress,” said Coach Gayle after the successful weekend showing. Gayle had previously coached conference travel basketball teams for the Falcons league for nearly 20 years.
The nonprofit organization Full Force is an affiliate of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The team draws players from the Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, La Cañada, Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Arcadia. Co-founders Michael Gayle and CV High School graduate Ib Belou established the program to provide a local basketball program whose fundamental goal is development of kids for competitive high school basketball.
Members of the 12U Full Force team, which made the semifinals, include Colin Caver and Austin Granier of Dunsmore Elementary and Danny Stayton of Monte Vista Elementary. Members of the 14U Full Force Gold team include Rosemont Middle School eighth graders Ben Ortiz, Anthony Simeonov, Nick Cabrera, Eric Patten, Ronald Shishido, Matt Amado and Allen Gukasyan. 14U tournament champions Full Force Black includes Rosemont eighth graders Gio DeGuzman, Nick Diaz, Michael Payne, Eric Bae, and Bryan Wang.