The TIRR Memorial Hermann Junior Hotwheels basketball team clinched the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s National Championship title on Sunday, defeating the Blazesports Jr. Hawks 62-56 to claim the top prize in Louisville, Ky.
The Junior Hotwheels team is made of middle and high school students from the Houston area and Southeast Texas region.
Entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed in their division, the Hotwheels dominated the competition, defeating three teams from across the nation on their way to the championship. The team previously won the National Championship Title in 2015.
Woodville High School sophomore Carrington Marendes, 16, small forward, was named the Male Varsity MVP of the National Tournament. “Our hard work and dedication this season has paid off and I just want to keep working hard because this is a really good feeling,” said Marendes.
The Emery/Weiner School sophomore Peter Berry, 16, guard, was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the championship game. “It feels great that all of our hard work me and my teammates have put in along with our coach who was there the entire step of the way,” said Berry. “All of us are blessed and our hard work has paid off.”
Berry along with Woodville High School sophomore Center Garrett Castillo, 17, were awarded Male 2nd Team All-Tournament Awards.
“I’m proud of my team. They fought hard all season long and have certainly earned this championship title,” says Hotwheels Coach Trice Ham. “They deserve it and I’m so happy to be a part of the family.”
The Hotwheels are part of TIRR Memorial Hermann’s Adaptive Sports Program, which launched in 1997 and includes a junior and two adult basketball teams as well as a rugby team. Adaptive sports are competitive or recreational sports for people with disabilities.
“Adaptive Sport has the power to develop greater independence and promotes social-emotional development. It leads to an overall improvement in emotional control, social awareness, self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-concept, as well as increases motivation,” said Peggy Turner, Adapted Sports Coordinator at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
For members of the Hotwheels team, the program has not only provided an opportunity to hone their athletic abilities and expand their self-confidence, it has also helped many players achieve their dreams of going to college. Multiple Hotwheels players over the years have received full athletic scholarships to attend universities that have collegiate wheelchair basketball programs.