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The U-13 2010 New England Crusader basketball team celebrates its victory. Pictured are: front row, from left, assistant coach Lauri Putnam, Clairee Putnam, Maddie Jeans, Aliza Simpson, Morgan Church, Bailey Marshall; back row, from left, assistant coach Bill Conrad, Ali Glennon, Elisabeth Geigerich, Mckenzie Brown, Mary Mullen, Caroline Conrad, Courtney Walsh, head coach Mike Collins.

MANCHESTER — The New England Crusaders U13 team recently completed a 50-win AAU season with a third-place finish at AAU girls nationals last week in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Finishing the tournament 7-1, the Crusaders defeated the Ohio Hoopsters, 55-53, in the consolation game to finish third in a field of 64 top AAU teams attending the tournament from around the country.

The team, which draws players from all over New Hampshire, has an impressive resume, including three tournament championships, a state championship, a final four finish at the USJN tournament in Hershey, Pa., (56 teams), and a pool championship at the 14U Gym Rat tournament in Albany, N.Y.

Team members include Aliza Simpson of Londonderry; Maddie Jeans, Clairee Putnam and Courtney Walsh of Windham; Morgan Church of New London; Rachel Collins, Caroline Conrad, Ali Glennon, Mckenzie Brown and Bailey Marshall of Bedford; Valerie Martin of Derry; Mary Mullen of Loudon; Allie Clement of Falmouth, Maine; Brindi Schroeder of Goffstown; and Elisabeth Giegerich of Wolfeboro.

"These young women have represented themselves and the state well. They are the most hard-working, unselfish and fearless players I've ever coached," head coach Mike Collins said. "They deserve all their success."

Collins said many of the girls will be early contributors at their respective high schools and represent a particularly strong New Hampshire basketball class.

"Their high school coaches have been aware of these girls for several years, and can't wait to get them into their programs this fall," Collins said. "I expect most of them have great basketball futures in front of them. This team and these players have already turned a lot of heads."

The New England Crusaders is the only Nike-sponsored women's AAU basketball in New England.

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