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Girls AAU tournament set for Augusta State

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Eric Kency knows some players can start pressing and stressing if they try to make an impression on college coaches.

But the coach of Georgia Sting Red wants his players to enjoy the sport and the experience.

“What I tell them is, ‘Don’t worry about wins and losses. Just have fun and play the game. The coaches will like you being you,’ ” he said. “Make the game enjoyable – don’t make it a job. Some get so wrapped up with the college scouts there, they see it as a job.”

Kency will try to continue that mindset as his squad — made up of local girls high school basketball talent – competes at Elite 32 Summer Jam II at Augusta State. Elite 32 Summer Jam I started Thursday and concludes Saturday; Georgia Sting Red’s Elite 32 Summer Jam II begins Sunday and ends Tuesday. The team will play against some of the best high school players and AAU teams, including a 7:10 p.m. game Sunday.

A collection of talent from Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties help make up most of the Georgia Sting Red roster, with Kency’s daughter Malia Kency of Grovetown one player. Besides her, the team also has Westside’s Azia Gibson, North Augusta’s Mallory Stone and Briarwood Academy’s Tiffany Pate, along with many others.

“They’re so fast. They are blazing fast,” coach Kency said. “That’s the only thing keeping us in games with the older girls. We play such an up-tempo game that we’re able to be competitive.”

Meanwhile, the Nike Nationals premier event also ends Tuesday at North Augusta’s Riverview Park Activities Center. The tournament comes just one week after the best boys basketball players hit the center’s courts for the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam.

For the girls’ event, DFW T-Jack is the defending champion. Brianna Turner, who’s ranked No. 2 for the 2014 class, suits up for the returning champs.

As always, big-name college coaches will be going back-and-forth between the two locations to see recruits like Turner and others play.

“For both parties involved, there are teams and players coaches are tracking,” Peach State Basketball Director Brandon Clay said. “Honestly, it has become a destination. Augusta has become a destination for girls basketball.”


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