The West Virginia Dream team did it.
They got over the hump.
A year after finishing as national runner-ups in their AAU division, the southern West Virginia-based Dream team went all the way this time, winning the NTBA National Championship with a 7-0 showing in the national tournament which was held at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina over the weekend.
The Dream, made up of 10th-graders, downed the Asheboro Warriors out of South Carolina, 56-38, in the finals and closed out with a 29-9 seasonal record. Both teams entered the championship game with unbeaten 6-0 marks.
"We scouted this team and they were also very athletic, very skilled and were a great perimeter shooting team," said Dream coach Hannah Tothe, a former basketball player at Logan High School.
Last year, the Dream's dream of a national title was dashed after losing in the finals to the Fayetteville Stars.
It would be different this time.
"We wanted this year to be different," Tothe said. "We were calling this trip a business trip to come and show we belonged and get the job done. We started the game out very slow and very much like last year's title game and we found ourselves in a dog fight as the first half went back and forth sending us into the break only up by three points at 20-17."
The Dream made halftime adjustments and turned up the tempo.
"We talked at the half and Coach (Edwyn) May alluded to the fact that we were allowing them to hang around because we were playing slow and not getting the tempo in our favor," Tothe said. "So we urged them to come out quick and play fast. And for our sake we did as we built an early 11-point lead in the early minutes of the second half."
The West Virginia girls continued to play fast, taking the lead up to as much 20 points before eventually winning the national championship by an 18-point margin.
The Dream is made up of eight players from area and regional schools.
"All of them contributed throughout the week," Coach Tothe said.
One of the player on the team is Hannah Tothe's younger sister Jill Tothe, a Logan High School All-State standout guard.
"Jill Tothe and Kaylea Baisden (Tug Valley) shot extremely well each game knocking down shot after shot. Jill and Kaylea established themselves as threats from anywhere on the floor," Coach Tothe said.
Julie Boone (Tolsia) and Makayla May (Tug Valley) also dominated the paint in rebounds and scoring opportunities.
Coach Tothe heaped further praise on her players.
"Carolina Asbury (Spring Valley) and Alana Eves (Wayne) are our do-all players from defense, to rebounding, to attacking the basket as they imposed their will on teams each game," she said. "Hannah Blankenship (Wyoming East) and Gavin Pivont (Summers County) are our sparks off the bench and provide stability on both ends of the floor with their court smarts, shooting and defense. What I was most proud of in the finals was the fact that there were four or five loose balls on the floor and we had different girls diving and flying to the ball which led to something good in our favor each time."
Coach Tothe and her dad Mike Tothe, the Dream's Director, said they received a lot of help from former Tug Valley High School boys' basketball coach Edwyn May, who served as an assistant coach. His daughter Makayla May plays on the team.
"This week and year has been great," Mike Tothe said. "We have had a great year and we have had great help from former Tug Valley High School boys head coach Edwyn May assisting my daughter Hannah in coaching our team. It was a proud dad moment for me seeing my youngest playing well and my oldest having the time of her life coaching these girls."
The Dream won each game by double digits.
In pool play the Dream defeated the Carolina Crush out of South Carolina, 63-39, then routed the A&W Elite out of New Jersey, 47-20.
The next team to fall to the Dream was the BIG MAAC team out of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in a 51-15 drubbing.
The Dream was also awarded a forfeit win over the Pennsylvannia Dreamers.
The 4-0 pool play record placed the Dream into the Gold Bracket where they received a first-round bye.
In the national quarterfinals, the Dream raced past the Carolina Rising Stars team out of Charlotte, North Carolina, in a 56-21 blowout.
"We scouted this team and they were very physical with athletic guards and good size tall girl," Hannah Tothe said. "We wanted to establish tempo and intensity with allowing defense to create offense. We came out strong and our shooters were hitting. We found open people, played great defense and came away with a the win."
That moved the WV Dream into the semifinals against Neptune Takeover from Maryland. The Dream passed that test with a 68-39 rout, sending the locals to the championship game.
"Neptune was also very athletic and played very aggressive defense," Coach Tothe said. "They caused us some problems in the early going until we matched their physicality. Once we matched that and got things going in transition we were fine."
The WV Dream Eighth Grade team also competed in this event and lost in the Silver Bracket semifinals.
The team is coached by Randall Adkins.
Both teams have a total of eight girls from Logan and Mingo counties.
Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.