Posted May 07, 2014


HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Like industrious bees busily laboring over a honeycomb, students from eight Prince George’s County schools toiled over statistics and shot planners to compete Saturday (May 3) in the first NBA Math Hoops tournament.

Seventh graders Ayinde Hinton and Koby Holland emerged as the 2014 NBA Math Hoops Champs. The winners proudly wore their collegiate uniforms representing From the Heart Christian School based in Suitland as they claimed engraved crystal trophies.

“Our strategy helped us a lot,” said Hinton who honed his skills each Friday after school in a club with 16 members.  “It was a fun experience.”

Hinton and Holland narrowly beat out Teyon Petway, an 8th grader from Kenmoor Middle School, Hyattsville. The unflappable Petway took the news in stride that his teammate would not make the tournament and single-handedly fought opponents from rival math clubs.

Anthony Gaskins and Victoria Middleton, also students at From the Heart, claimed Third place. Danyelle Larry, Tarik Manzie and Isaiah Graham of Highland Park Christian Academy came in fourth. All other finalists received orange and blue NBA Math Hoops medals.

Maryland's tournament at Prince George's Plaza Community Center was the third regional tournament of the season for the nationally marketed NBA Math Hoops program. It followed state and city championships in Ohio and Buffalo, but precedes additional events in Cleveland, Boston, and New York City.

“Prince George’s County’s students showed an impressive level of command over both the basic and advanced versions of the game, a testimony to the consistent and quality work that has been done by the Scholastic Olympics team at the local club level,” said Nick Monzi, director of programs for Learn Fresh, a 501c3 that developed and distributes the game.

“I was thrilled to see a wide range of ages involved in the program, and am encouraged by the discussions around program expansion that have already taken place. It is clear that the teachers at each school also are very invested in the program and are excited to continue.”

The fast-paced NBA Math Hoops board game steers students through fundamental math computations based on the real statistics of favored NBA and WNBA players. The curriculum is tied to Common Core State Standards and 21st Century Learning Skills. The American Institutes for Research, in a preliminary analysis of the NBA Math Hoops program, found students who play the game on a consistent basis can more than double their basic math skills and understanding of statistics.

“The games were very engaging and my students loved the competitiveness and interaction of using the actual stats of the players, all while learning,” said Mahalia Jackson-Laster, an Algebra 1 and geometry teacher at James Madison Middle School, Upper Marlboro.

Monzi said that the goal is to improve national statistics that show 83 percent of low-income eighth graders are not proficient in math. Experts say that failing a math class in middle school is a key indicator for dropping out of high school, which leads to a lifetime of struggle.

“Math Hoops really sparked an interest in math for my students,” said Philip DeLizio, a 4th and 5th grade math teacher at Allenwood Elementary School, Temple Hills. “I saw a noticeable difference in the recall ability of basic math facts for the participating students. This, coupled with the student’s exposure to, and learning about, sportsmanship, makes Math Hoops a definite winner! Not to mention the fun!”

Obinna Obike said he also “saw a huge improvement in students from the time I began working with them until the day of the tournament.” Obike helped manage the Maryland math clubs for Scholastic Olympics, Inc., a grassroots nonprofit group that has worked since the fall to bring NBA Math Hoops into Prince George’s County schools.

Schools competing this year are:

Allenwood Elementary, Temple Hills
Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, Laurel
From the Heart Christian School, Suitland
Highland Park Christian Academy, Landover
James Madison Middle School, Upper Marlboro
Kenmoor Middle School, Hyattsville
Largo High School, Upper Marlboro
Thurgood G. Marshall Middle School, Temple Hills


Board games generously provided by

Learn Fresh Education Co. is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, in association with NBA Cares.

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