36-seed Born to Ball advances in the first round of the Arizona State Draft Tournament
Every season in Arizona, all four of their draft leagues combine for a statewide tournament to decide who drafted the best team. It is the hardest championship to win in Ultimate Hoops every season, and some would argue that it’s harder to win than a national title.
It kicked off last night on Labor Day, with four play-in games to start the madness. Three of the four games were decided by 10 points or fewer, while three of the four games were won by the higher seed.
The headline of the four games was Born to Ball, the 36-seed (out of 36 teams), getting a 97-94 win over Grudge Holders, the 29-seed. The Grudge Holders came in with a 2-6 record, one win above Born to Ball’s 1-7 record, which included a six-game losing streak to end the season.
Born to Ball was led by Damonte Smith, who scored a game-high 34 points on 15-21 shooting, adding five rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. Smith has averaged 25.4/7.6/4.3 this season, but ironically, he was not in attendance for Born to Ball’s only regular season win, a 76-74 win over Bad Boyz.
The beauty of this tournament is it gives 36 teams a chance at one of the most coveted titles in all of Ultimate Hoops. They all technically have a chance, but history is not in favor of Born to Ball to make a deep run. This is the 11th state tournament, and the average seed of the previous 10 winners is 3.6. The 1-seed has won on four separate occasions, while the highest seed to ever win the tournament was the 9-seed Point Gods in the Summer of 2018.
Born to Ball has a tough test coming up, as they will face the 4-seed, and fellow Tempe team, Hungover Hoopers on Wednesday in the second round of the tournament. Hilariously, Hungover Hoopers’ only loss of the season came against the Bad Boyz, which was the only team Born to Ball won against in Tempe this season. I would still expect the 4-seed to be able to take care of business, but crazier things have happened.