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Saratoga Sparks place second at nationals

AAU team features several of the top high school juniors in Section II

The Saratoga Sparks 16-and-under girls basketball team placed second at the AAU National Championships following Sunday's 53-46 loss to the LA Angels of Louisiana in the finals.

The Saratoga Sparks 16-and-under girls basketball team placed second at the AAU National Championships following Sunday's 53-46 loss to the LA Angels of Louisiana in the finals.

The Sparks started their journey to the finals with a 48-40 victory over Florida’s Finest in the opening round of the championship bracket. A 59-44 quarterfinal win against the Alabama Twisters sent them into the semifinals, where they defeated the Orlando Comets 57-50 to reach the finals.

The LA Angels started the championship game on an 8-0 run, and the Sparks had to play from behind the rest of the way. Murphy hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Sparks get close to the LA Angels, but they couldn’t pass them.

Rosales contributed 11 points for the Sparks in the championship game, which was televised on ESPN3 and attracted several college basketball coaches.

“It was very exciting and very different,” said Rosales. “There were cameras everywhere, and you’d look up at the scoreboard and see your face up there.”

“I thought it was a great experience for all of us,” added Welch. “We got to play in front of college coaches, so we got a lot of good exposure. And everybody chipped in to get us to the final.”

DeMarinis said placing second at the AAU National Championships has made the Sparks hungry for more. The team is gearing up for next week’s Junior Nationals in Washington, D.C.

“We want to keep winning,” said DeMarinis. “We want to keep our level of competition up.”

“It’s going to be our last tournament together, so none of us are looking to lose down there,” added Rosales.

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