West Orange AAU basketball team wins national championship

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A West Orange youth basketball team is getting national recognition for winning a championship in Orlando last week.

The West Orange Knights, part of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball league, just won the national championship in the 14 and under division. The players say that they worked hard for this opportunity.

“Our hard work and desire. We wanted to win this thing. We came to Florida to win and win only,” says forward Terry Copland.

Ten out of the 11 players on the team are from West Orange. They say that it is about time that athletes from Essex County get recognition.

“There’s a lot of talent in this area and this area doesn't really get a lot of attention,” says guard Jhensen Touze. “We brought a lot of attention to this area.”

The team had to advance through six games to get to the championship. But their coach is no stranger to adversity. He is former New Jersey governor and current state Sen. Richard Codey.

User: Richard J. Codey To: link

“It’s huge. I mean, how many people who play sports ever won a national title at any level? So for these kids and myself and my son, it's a lifetime memory and it stays with you the rest of your life,” Codey says.

With most of the players going to high school in the fall, the team will start to disband. Codey says that he is hopeful that his players will continue to excel both on and off the court.

“I consider myself a better life coach than a basketball coach and that's more important - that they conduct themselves the right way and be successful in life and have a good family and lead a good life,” Codey says.

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