published Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Tennessee Temple's Johnson to play basketball in Italy — and more Chattanooga region sports news

After completing his basketball career at Tennessee Temple University, Elliot Johnson has hooked up with a professional team in Italy. He will leave the United States on Aug. 16 to join the Pianeta Basket club in Sora. "It's the second highest league in Italy," the 27-year-old Johnson said Tuesday night. The season starts Sept. 6. The Milwaukee native said the opportunity fulfills a "plan" he's had since he "was 7 or 8 years old. I've been playing since I was 5. My father got sick when I was 19, and that delayed me from going back to school." Eventually, he played junior college basketball for Georgia Perimeter, came to Lee University for a semester and then transferred to Temple for the last two seasons. The 6-foot-8 wing player averaged 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and an NCCAA-high 8.1 assists per game as the Crusaders went 22-12 and finished second in the USCAA national tournament this past season. He was a first-team NCCAA Division I All-American and the Mid-East Region player of the year in 2013 and the runner-up for region player of the year in 2014. In addition to a highlight clip, his marketing effort included a full game video on YouTube from a 73-70 defeat of Victory when he had 31 points and 10 rebounds in the USCAA nationals. "I signed with an agent in Italy. I had chances to go to Greece or Germany, too," said Johnson, who never has been to Europe. "I really enjoyed my time in Chattanooga. I always got a positive vibe from the people, both at the school and in the community. And I got really great help from Tennessee Temple." One he praised greatly was assistant coach Ezell Dodd, who in turn said that Johnson "is a walking double-double, and he obviously helped us turn the program around the last two years. He's laid back and gets along with everybody, so I'm sure he will do well. I talked to his agent today, and he said they've bringing Elliot in to be the star. They plan to build the team around him for the next two years."

• The Greensboro (N.C.) Gaters won the AAU seventh-grade girls' Division I national basketball championship with a 44-41 victory over the Lady Trotters from Jefferson City, Tenn., in Tuesday's final at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga. North Texas Lights Out finished third with Peak Performance Black from Atlanta fourth. Kentucky's Central Sparx won the Division II national title with a 62-40 defeat of the Jacksonville (Fla.) Lady Rams, and Indiana's Finest Fry won Division III with a 45-32 win over another Indiana team, Garden Sparks Teal. Tennessee Xtreme from Chattanooga finished fourth in Division III, losing 34-25 to Clarksville SOL in the third-place game.

Tennis

• Siblings Daniel and Emily Hangstefer from Signal Mountain each won in singles and doubles Tuesday at the Champions Club to help their United States teams beat Great Britain in the Dresse and Maere Cup competition for hearing-impaired tennis players. The U.S. men won 2-1 in their opening pool-play match and face Germany this morning. The USA women captained by the Hangstefers' sister, Katie Mancebo, are 2-0 after their second consecutive 3-0 victory and wrap up pool play against Russia (0-2). Emily Hangstefer and Laura Chapman both won in singles and together in doubles as the world's top-ranked duo. The U.S. is assured of being involved in women's semifinal play Friday with the top two teams from each pool; Great Britain and Germany match 1-1 records today.

• University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's tennis players Pavels Grigorjevs and Gino Delavalle have been named Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athletes for the 2013-14 season. That requires being varsity letter winners and having a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale for the academic year. Grigorjevs, a mechanical engineering major, goes into his senior year with a 3.38 GPA for his time at UTC and was 6-6 at No. 1 singles this past season. Delavalle, a rising junior majoring in economics, was 7-7 at No. 4 singles and had a 4.0 GPA for the spring semester.

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