Tears were shed when the Boulevard Boyz basketball team lost two of its first three games in the AAU Division III National Championships in Hampton, Va. By the end of the tournament, there were more tears from the Boulevard Boyz camp. This time, however, they were tears of joy.
The Boulevard Boyz, composed mostly of players from the Town of Southold, won their final four games to win the national championship for players 14-and-under.
Led by Jaxan Swann (22 points), Ahkee Anderson (18) and Xavier Allen (16), the Boulevard Boyz beat the Virginia Marlins, 68-54, in the title game. Afterward, fans, parents and players hugged each other, crying.
“All of them felt the joy of being a part of a national champion,” said the team’s coach, Rodney Shelby.
The Boulevard Boyz started Brandon Clark, Anderson, Allen, Swann and Elijah White. Sylas Shelby, Nick Grathwohl, Joel Treadwell and Isaiah Johnson came off the bench. The 6-foot-tall White was the tallest player for the undersized Boulevard Boyz, who had qualified for the national tournament twice before, only to go 0-8.
Among those teary-eyed this time around was Rodney Shelby.
“My eyes got watery, but I kind of held it back,” he said. “It took everything I had to keep from crying.”