City of Waco honors local youth basketball teams who won TAAF state titles

Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 3:32 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Eight Waco youth basketball teams who won state championships through the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation, or TAAF, were honored at the Waco City Council meeting Tuesday night.

The boys and girls teams range in age from 7 to 13 years old.

“It’s the culture of Waco to have champions,” Waco Mayor Dillon Meek told KWTX. “It takes hard work and good character to get to that point, so I’m not surprised but I’m thrilled to celebrate them here today.”

The meeting room was packed with players in matching uniforms and their families.

The coaches of each winning team were recognized on stage while Mayor Meek read the names of each team.

“We’re so thrilled to recognize all these great kiddos who play youth basketball,” Meek said. “Youth recreation is an important part of our community. We’re thrilled to celebrate that tonight, and I’m glad that these kids and their families are at our Waco City Council this evening.”

The TAAF State Tournament is held in a different town each year, but took place March 18-19 this year between the Dewey and South Waco Community Centers, as well as University and Waco High Schools.

The tournament was hosted by the City of Waco Parks and Recreation Athletics Department.

Chris Ajose, known to his team as Coach CTA, was the head coach of the Central Texas Academy 9U Boys team.

The Central Texas Academy 9U Boys team
The Central Texas Academy 9U Boys team(Courtesy Photo)

He said his team worked hard for the title so it was nice to see the City of Waco recognize their efforts.

“It felt really good to have the kids come out, have fun, compete and learn the game at a higher level, so it meant a lot and felt really good,” Ajose said.

“My team is young, energetic, love the game, and they’re very coachable.”

DJ Brandon is from Chilton and played on the Central Texas Academy team.

“It was fun and at the same time good,” DJ said. “I had a great time playing the game.”

It was a feeling shared by teammate 9-year-old Hudson Lalani.

“It means a lot because our whole team had to work really hard for this. We’ve been in the gym a lot just practicing so we could get there,” Hudson said.

“It felt great because my coaches and my teammates helped me to win a championship, and it felt great to bring it back to Waco,” CTA player Ace Craytor added.

Armoni Mitchell is a 2nd grader at Alta Vista Elementary in Waco ISD and played for the DC Queens.

“It feels good ,” she said. “It means that our team is getting better and better each team we get on the court.”

Ty Brown was part of the 94 Feet Elite championship team, and said teamwork really does make the dream work.

“We have a good relationship with each other,” Ty said. “We all have a special ability and we all just work good together.”

Sofia Hernandez and Annaleigh Gutierrez are 4th graders who play for the Waco Panthers 9U.
Sofia Hernandez and Annaleigh Gutierrez are 4th graders who play for the Waco Panthers 9U.(Courtesy Photo)

Sofia Hernandez and Annaleigh Gutierrez are 4th graders who play for the Waco Panthers 9U.

They were all smiles following the recognition.

“Being in the state championship is having more opportunities to take more shots, and like competing with teams that are the same type of skills as us,” Annaleigh said.

“We’re really happy and excited!” Sofia said.

The state championship winning teams included Waco DC Kings 7U Boys, Waco DC Queens 7U Girls, Central Texas Academy 9U Boys, Waco Lady Panthers 9U Girls (Division III), Waco Outlaws 11U Boys, Waco United 11U Girls, Waco 94 Feet Elite 13U Boys, and Waco DC Queens 13U Girls.