skip navigation

Winter Series Session 1

By Ty Postell, 11/29/23, 12:45PM PST


Once again the Select Events - Winter Series curated by Kenneth "KP" Pannel presented the opportunity for teams to compete at a high level, gain exposure and measure up to some of the best middle schoolers in the country. With a wide arrange of talent on all levels, over120 teams made the journey to Manheim, PA to see what the Buzz is all about. 

With teams such as ML20 of Oregon, Alaska Premiere, Team Prodigy out of California, of course the DMV teams came up I-95 and the FBC Coast to Coast team who has a roster of players from multiple regions of the country. They all came to leave their stamp on the Winter Series, which has become the standard and is considered to be the Top Middle School circuit in the country. 

8th Grade Championship Game

After all the smoke clears, there could only be one Champion !! We'll focus on the highly anticipated 8th grade Championship match up between Exodus NYC and ML20 both going undefeated and pool play and clicking on all cylinders. Coach Joy of ML20 had her team rolling throughout the weekend, capitalizing on her teams size, with a frontline boasting four 6 footers they utilized a big 3-2 zone which seemed to be the recipe for success. Exodus NYC Coach BG had a game plan, as his team ran a free flowing offense with precise ball movement and multiple screening actions opening things up for his trio of snipers in Halle NewsomeCidney Stanfield and Melody Vaughn to counter the zone as they knocked down multiple 3's to take control of the first half.  PG Amoree Anderson wasn't as aggressive offensively but her elite ball skills allowed her to cause havoc on penetration and kicks which were key to the early lead as she found her shooters. She called her own number late hitting a few from deep to help Exodus maintain the lead going into halftime. 

Second half, was played at a high level with both teams executing on both ends. The the size factor kicked in as ML20 Jayla Lackey, Amy Nduka and company started to force their will on the boards giving the team multiple opportunities. Kendall Dawkins energy on the defensive end along with her downhill attacks changed the pace of the game. The teams general Love Lei Best settled in late and made key plays to shift the momentum as her poise and demeanor counteracted the pressure of Exodus. In the latter part of the second half she knocked down two timely 3's to close the gap an take the lead with under a minute to play. In a tightly competitive battle, ML20 took advantage of a few turnovers down the stretch to help secure a slim margin and were crowned Session One - Winter Series Champions, shout to Coach Joy and Demarcus on success in their first taste of the Circuit.  

8th Grade Standouts

28' Love Lei Best - ML20

The PG out of Oregon has all the goods. She has a high IQ, a vocal leader,  and showed extreme poise throughout every game. She plays at her pace, never rattled or sped up under pressure, her elite vision was something to watch as she manipulated defenses with her eyes  delivering no look assist to her post or kick outs to shooters which was very impressive to watch. Very solid showing  overall one of, if not the best PG's in the building over the weekend. 

28' Jayla Lackey - ML20

Solid 6'2 framed forward that was a handful on both sides of the ball. A problem in the post and monster on the boards as she buried defenders on box outs and rebounded well out of area. She executed pin point outlet passes and ran the floor like a deer. Great hands and footwork to match, impressed with her understanding of early post positioning and her willingness to play with her back to the basket. Well rounded player, one to watch 

28' Halle Newsome

A big wing that can shoot the lights out, the lefty was having target practice from beyond the arch all weekend. At first glance you'd think, "bad shot" as she released it an easy foot or two beyond the arch but she displayed unlimited range and accuracy.  She mixed it up on defensive end and battle on the boards. I'd like to see her more comfortable putting the ball on the floor which will come with more work.  One to watch 

29' Khloe Isom

We had a chance to chat with this young dynamic guard last year in our "Youth Movement" interviews. She was ready then and came back this year on a mission. Playing in two age divisions she held her own in both and led her 7th grade Team Thrill squad to the Championship title.  A score first guard, she has supreme confidence with the ball in her hand, always in attack mode and in most situations unstoppable in transition.  Competes on both ends and was disruptive anticipates passing lanes and bottling up guards. Improved shooting from beyond the arch and more pace will open her game up. Elite Performer   

28' Sara Nezaj - Palisades Elite

The do it all guard for Palisades Elite can simply put the ball in the basket. A three level scorer she created off the bounce, excels in transition as she owns the middle of the floor giving her self options, next level stuff.  her midrange is pure and the the long ball is true. Her IQ is in tact and is aggressive with purpose as she set up her shooters and created easy opportunities the paint.  One to watch.

28' Kayla Eberz - Comets

A fundamentally sound small forward, great IQ,  hands and understanding of the game. She methodically positioned her self in the post where she dominated, playing off her pivot to perfection. Her use of ball fakes and ability to make tough shots around the rim were on full display.  She had one of the top performances of the weekend as she single handedly willed her a team to a win over a very talented FBC team. Added touch on perimeter will expand her game. 


28' Sydney Douglas - FBC Coast to Coast

Impressed with the improvement of this young prospect, her 3-6-9-12 cycle of improvement is glaring. A rare combo of skill and height, I notice a major uptick in her al  around skill set from ball handling, footwork and shooting touch which extends beyond the 3pt line with accuracy. Her balance and agility are much improve as she seemed to glide up and down the floor with her 6'6 frame.  She is very comfortable and fluid on the perimeter displayed great court vision, ability to get in the lanes with an array of combos with pull up off the bounce or finish at the rim. I would like to see be more physicality and force in the paint as she continues to develop. .  Remember the name!!

PassThaBall Chat w/ Syndey Douglas

28' Meso Nwubo - Jersey Pride

Smooth guard with speed and good anticipation on the defensive end as she gain multiple steals in the open court. I noticed a increase in confidence on the offensive end.  She seemed intent with every touch and searched out shots. Quick first step allowed her to manipulating the lanes, has a nice layup package.  She shot it well of the bounce in the midrange and was accurate from 3 point range, hitting a few in transition. Nice Upside  

7th Grade Standouts

32' Aubree Singletary - Team Thrill

This 4th grader has a different pulse !! Playing three grades up you wouldn't have known it. She wreaks confidence, her quickness and ball handling is impressive. Displayed great defensive instinct and a noise for the ball. On offense her understanding of spacing, how to play off the ball and her poise under pressure really stood out.  Very intriguing young player, one to watch.

30' Cayla Murray - Team Prodigy 

Speed, handles, shooting and mentality all in line with this tough young guard from the west coast. Gets to her spots with a quick release on her jumper, fearless on down hill attacks finishing with either hand under heavy duress at an elite level. Scrappy defensively causing havoc on the perimeter all weekend. Great demeanor and her natural leadership showed as she had her team one possession away from the 7th grade Championship.   

30' Sophia Lopez - Team Prodigy

Shooters shoot and that's what this young lady did, from all over the floor. A very unconventional form and release point but that did not effect range or accuracy. Gritty competitor that wasn't afraid to mix up with her slender frame as she was in tie ups, first to the floor on loose balls and her energy willed her teammates.  

29' Lyla Thompson - Team Thrill

Solid framed wing that mixes it up inside / out. Hard hat type that handles well and great balance on drives with strength to finish through contact and did all the dirty work snatching boards and put backs in big moments. Showed nice form on jump shot, knocking down some big shots on way to championship. Will keep an eye on this one. 

29' Savayah Mitchell - West Virginia Thunder

All around athlete, her speed, elevation and energy is on another level. She gets up and down the floor in a flash, has great balance and a quick second jump as she rebounds well from the guard position. High release on jump shot and ability to score in tight spaces made her a threat every touch. A very high ceiling for this young prospect.

29' Sydney Youngblood - YKS

Intense competitor that never takes a play off. Scrappy defender she was a menace, first to 50/50 balls and played passing lanes turning defense to offense in a blur. A streaky shooter that can hit the long ball, solid handle and quick first step as she lived in the lanes creating for self or teammates. One to Watch. 

29' Harper Scringe - IGB

Steady point guard, plays at her pace and very savvy as she accepted and rejected pressure well making the right plays out of traps. She found her shooters or cutters in the lane with pinpoint passes for the assist. Solid offensively wit h as solid jumper and very crafty in the lanes executing floaters or extended lay ups.  Very serviceable guard


The Youth Movement - A look in on the Classes of 30' & 31'

30' Lucie Bolan - Fairfax Stars

A flat out baller, intense competitor that empties her tank every time she on the floor. A ball hawk with great instincts and plays with purpose on the defense end.  Wire athleticism, can handle on perimeter but does her work in the lanes. She shows consistent improvement each time out. 

30' Jazleen Young - Riverside

Natural athleticism, plays with a high motor on both ends and was a handful defensively. She was hard to keep of the boards getting multiple put backs She has a strong build with good hands and seems to get better as the game goes on as she continued develop offensively, she'll be on a number of radars. 

30' Layla Pressley - Exodus NYC

Young guard is still in the development stage but is such a raw talent. Her speed, agility and ability to change direction on a dime  impacted every game and was evident from tips, steals, tie ups and of course a few buckets. Open court is where she thrives, a confidence player that searches out shots, with work consistency on her perimeter shot will develop in time.  One to watch.    

30' Mia Lawson - Top Notch

Constant action and effort out of this little guard, defensive energy is definitely her calling card. She also aggressive offensively playing with reckless abandonment, not  is not phased by contact as she slashed the lanes through bumps and grabs finishing or getting to the line. Confident shooting the ball off the bounce and decent from beyond the arch. Will keep a eye on this one.    

31' Aubri Gibbs - Sideline Cancer

Great approach to the game, plays with a focus and majority beyond her years. Poised and vocal PG with high IQ, she resets broken plays, directed traffic and put her teammates in position to be successful. She finishes well in traffic and has a consistent jumper. Elite level performer, the work shows. 

31' Maleah Singletary - Sideline Cancer

Strongly built, she excels on drives as she beat defenders off the bounce getting to the basket and finishes at a high rate. her strength and balance allows her to power finish in most situations and showed nice form on jump shot as she was lethal from beyond the arc over the weekend. High ceiling 

31' Leighton Mckenna - Gauchos

A poised guard that knows how to play. She is smooth and seems to float as she is never in a rush. She uses ball fakes to her advantage and makes up for lack of foot speed but she is quick with ball in her hand getting to her spots.  Foot placement and hands are textbook on jump shot, added strength will increase consistency and range. Fun to watch compete  

31' Aleena Wilson - Castle

Very active and high energy player that does all the dirty work for her team. Still finding her way offensively but she runs the floor well, has good hands and a physical presence. She crashes the boards and is a multi effort player which every team needs. As she continues to develop, watch out. 

Winter Series experience - One word & Why ?

I had a chance to spend some time with two really cool groups of players and coaches from Oregon / ML20 and Anchorage Alaska / Alaska Premiere to get their take on the Winter Series atmosphere. They both came ready to compete, in a new environment with different styles of play and were able to grow from the experience.   

We had the players describe their individual Winter Series experience in "One Word" and here's what we got.  

PassThaBall chat w/ 32" Aubree Singletary

PassThaBall chat w/ 31' Aubri Gibbs - Sideline Cancer