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Program on the Rise: Cap City Scrappers

August 23, 2019 11:00 am Updated: August 23, 2019 11:12 am

The Cap City Scrappers were founded just four summers ago, but have come a long way since that time. 

Scrappers founder and coach Bobby Shields started the program with the mission of keeping kids off the streets during the hot summer months and also allowing those kids who never got to showcase their talents in high school a chance to prove themselves to colleges. 

As a one-man ownership team, Coach Shields and the Scrappers quickly grew their program with supporting coaches and staff, which included Pat Russo, Charlie Bianchino, Neil Epstein, Tracey Possinant, Dominic Petrocci and others. 

Coach Shields’ recruiting skill set led to wins in local tournaments in the upstate area as well as competing in some out-of-state tournaments. Coach Shields’ teams were recognized with a partnership with the Boston Celtics (an NBA team) in November of 2017. 

Cap City followed that with a big ripple in the AAU scheme when they introduced their girls teams for the 2018 AAU season. Finding themselves once again starting from scraps they have also built a competing program for females. However, Coach Shields spring was just getting started. 

The Scrappers next partnership showed in the Adidas Gauntlet AAU circuit program in the summer of 2018. The Scrappers entered the ‘silver’ gauntlet and they would compete in the 2nd tier of Adidas Gauntlet play with the starting goal of reaching the gold gauntlet. 

This summer was the biggest one for the Cap City program. The 15u (15 year olds and younger) team was making strides as one of the up and coming teams in the northeast and their season even featured a win against a talented gold gauntlet team in NEBC Buffalo. All of the Scrappers best teams attended the silver gauntlet regional event in Washington D.C.

The 17u squad won the tournament, which earned them the rights to play in the Adidas National event in Dallas, Texas. After some fundraising and work, the Scrappers were able to put together a seven-man roster for the tournament, which took place from July 18 - 22. 

During pool play the team won its division to move into the gold bracket at the event. The following day the team had its first matchup in the knockout round against New Era. With eight teams remaining in the bracket, the Scrappers trailed 59-51, but with hard work in the last two minutes of play, they performed many hustle plays and were able to pull away with a tight victory. 

Kymani Harley of Pittsfield had 18 points and 6 assists while Rian Jewett of Maple Hill scored 12 points, shooting 4 for 4 from beyond the 3-point line. Lateef Johnson Jr. had the game sealing steal along with 15 points, which led to the Scrappers advancing to the Final Four. 

In the semifinals, the Scrappers found themselves up against Team Arizona, which was the favorite to win the tournament. The Scrappers pulled out a 63-58 win to advance into the final of the bracket. Lavon Fernandez of Catskill scored 26 points and CJ Bianchino of Ravena scored 21 while Chatham’s Keon Armstrong grabbed 10 rebounds and Ricky Rollins of Mekeel Christian went to work on the defensive end with a total of five blocks for the game. 

The Scrappers then faced off against ASAK Elite Texas and lost in the championship game of the entire event. They placed second overall in the nation for the Adidas Silver Gauntlet 2019 circuit. 

Although they haven’t been promoted to the gold gauntlet yet, Shields says that it’s “very likely” and that they should be getting promoted. When Coach Shields was asked about his end goals for the Scrappers he stated that he wanted Cap City to be a “fully sponsored program that will help the kids get noticed and earn college scholarships” but that being promoted to the gold circuit is the goal at hand. 

The Cap City Scrappers have certainly impacted the basketball scene in the Capital District and with their most recent success they could arguably be one of the top tier AAU programs in upstate New York.