Image: At Hank Gathers Recreation Center, Elite 8 Women Basketball League completes its Championship Season

 Elite 8 Championship celebration.

The celebration was short and sweet. Players from the Lynx women’s basketball team held up their championship trophies. They celebrated a 64-46 victory over the Dream Team. This was a great championship victory. In the game, Tanesha Sutton scored 24 points and ripped down 16 rebounds. The Lynx guard was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Meantime, her teammate, Taylor Brown, also played a spectacular game. Taylor knocked three treys and recorded five assists. Taylor finished the championship game with 16 points. This season, Taylor was the youngest player in the Elite 8 Women’s Basketball League. Taylor Brown is only in seventh grade. But this season, Taylor was named the league’s Rookie of the Year. This season, Taylor Brown and Tanesha Sutton were great play makers in the Elite 8 Women Basketball League.                                              

 

For many years around the city, Philadelphia has been the home for many women’s basketball teams. But due to a history of low attendance, the city has failed to maintain a large fan base in women’s basketball. And because of this problem, WNBA officials have refused to grant Philadelphia a WNBA team.                               

 

Despite the fight to keep women players on the basketball court, this year one man who has  provided a place for older female basketball players to come and display their basketball skills. His name is Kenyatta McKinney and  he has started his own 18-and-older women basketball league. He calls his league “The Elite 8 Women Basketball League”. This year, he ran his league at Hank Gathers Recreation Center, located at 25th and Diamond Street in North Philadelphia.                                             

 

McKinney started his women league after the pandemic wiped out his college basketball season. Despite not coaching women basketball at Community College of Philadelphia, McKinney decided to run his own basketball league. His league gives older female players a chance to display their basketball talent and skills.                                                                 

 

So back in May, McKinney ran a basketball draft which allowed the team captains to pick their teams. He ran the draft at Hank Gathers Recreation Center. From that draft, 45 players were picked and five teams were formed. All five teams were named after WNBA teams. To make the league more exciting, McKinney has no coaches running the teams.                              

 

 “I didn’t want the league be like a regular league,” said McKinney. “I wanted it to be more balanced. I wanted the league to be a player-based league. I wanted this league to be a place where women build sisterhood among each other. I didn’t want any coaches. I wanted players to be more accountable on the basketball court.”                                      

 

McKinney said he built the league for players to show up and play basketball. This year, he liked the way the players have responded to his league.                                                        

 

“Right now, I want to be the best commissioner I can be,” said McKinney. “If God’s willing, I hope I can keep this going. I know I have to stay focused and keep my eyes on what’s going on right now. With a major sponsor, I would love to expand the league.”     

 

Even though McKinney has no sponsors, he hopes his league can extract corporate sponsorship. This year, McKinney had the players pitching in for jerseys and paying money for the referees. This year, everything ran smoothly for the Elite 8 Women’s Basketball League.                                  

 

On June 25, the Elite 8 Women Basketball League kicked off its championship game. People came out and watched two great teams battle on the basketball court. McKinney said the reason he picked the North Philadelphia recreation center to run the league, is that’s where he played basketball as an inspired young baller.                                                   

 

“I grew up playing at Hank Gathers Recreation Center,” said McKinney. “I thought the location was a perfect spot to run the league. So far, the fans have been giving us great support. But once again, I still need a major sponsor. With a major sponsor, I can do more things for the league.”              

 

During the season, there was great action on the court. Here are some of the big stars that played this season for the Elite 8 Women Basketball League: League M.V.P  Tanesha Sutton, who plays for the Lynx, averaged 19.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. Sutton scored 29 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in last week’s playoff game. Taylor Blunt, who also plays for the Lynx, scored 11 points while her teammate, Taylor Brown, scored 15 points and picked up 5 assists as they led their team to a 60-55 victory over the Sparks in last week’s semi-final game. Meantime, former Temple Lady Owls guard Deja Reynolds plays for the Storm. Reynolds helps runs the offense. She’s a very explosive player. She can score points at a drop of a dime. Also, this season, Shayla Claiborne made big plays for the Lynx team. Last week, Claiborne knocked down a last-second buzzer-beater in overtime to help push her team into the playoffs. Claiborne’s team advanced in the playoffs and won Friday’s championship game.                                                              

 

Next year, Kenyatta McKinney can’t wait to run his women league again. Next year, he will be looking for more women to play basketball in his league. To contact Kenyatta McKinney about his Elite 8 Women Basketball League, you can email him @ improvedshot24hrs@gmail.com

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