Norris’ Hot Hand Leads To Victory

Wolfpack Earns 2024 NWBA Military Division Championship

Wolfpack Vets player Russ Norris didn’t expect any of his National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Military Division championship game success.

Not the game-high 34 points. Not the First Team All-Military Division honors. And not the NWBA Military Division Championship Game Most Valuable Player award.

Wolfpack Vets player Russ Norris scored a game-high 34 points in hits team’s 68-53 National Wheelchair Basketball Association Military Division championship game victory over the Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets. (Photo by John Groth).

Norris scored his 34 points and had six rebounds, while Jhoonar Barrera added 13 points and three rebounds, as the Wolfpack Vets rolled to a 68-53 title-game win over the Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets Sunday at the Plassman Athletic Center at Turnstone Center for Children & Adults With Disabilities in Fort Wayne, Ind.

An Army veteran and 44-year-old Seattle resident, Norris was certainly grateful and honored.

“I just didn’t realize what how many points I had or any of that until the end. You’ve seen me play enough to know I’m hot and cold. So, today was just my day,” Norris says.

After upsetting the previously undefeated Florida Renegades in the semifinals on Saturday, the Wolfpack Vets rode Norris’ speed, shooting and a third-quarter run to the victory.

Charlotte led 28-23 with 2 minutes and 45 seconds left in the second quarter. But the Wolfpack Vets scored the final six points of the period to finish 29-28 at halftime. Then, the Wolfpack surged with an early third-quarter run — scoring 13 straight points to push the lead to 42-28 halfway through the period. A Paralyzed Veterans of America Northwest Chapter member, Norris scored six points during the run, while Perry Price added four points and Barrera had three. The lead never dropped below double-digits after that.

Norris served from 2002 to 2008 as an infantryman and sustained a level L1 incomplete spinal-cord injury in a 2008 four-wheeler accident because of an improvised explosive device. He says he just capitalized on openings. Norris went 17-of-26 from the field and 0-of-1 from the foul line.

Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets player Mark Hartney, with ball, scored eight points in their National Wheelchair Basketball Association Military Division championship game loss to the Wolfpack Vets. (Photo by John Groth).


“I saw opportunities and used chair skills to outmaneuver them,” says Norris, who was playing in his first NWBA Military Division Tournament.

Price, who was named the Military Tournament Most Valuable Player, added nine points and seven rebounds, while Hector Varela had six points and seven rebounds.

Jesse Lind led Charlotte with 18 points (hitting 8-of-14 field goals and 2-of-4 free throws) and had three rebounds. Dale Thomas added 13 points and eight rebounds, while Mark Hartney had eight points and five rebounds.

Additionally, for Wolfpack player and Army veteran Brandi Evans, it marked her second NWBA title in the last two weeks. She won one two weeks ago with the Tucson Lobos, as the No. 3 seed captured the NWBA Adult Division III title over top-seeded Arkansas Rollin’ Razorbacks at the Henrico Sports & Events Center in Glen Allen, Va.

A medically retired Army sergeant, Evans served from 1997 to 2007 as a medic and sustained a right hip fracture and right knee fracture after being hit by a car in 2003 in Denver.

Evans, who scored two points, was choked up afterward trying to describe what the tournament meant to her. She says this tournament and weekend was the best weekend ever.

“Just because it hits home,” says Evans, an El Paso, Texas, resident. “It’s the military. We serve together. A lot of us, we’ve known each other for seven, eight years. And it’s just kind of a different dynamic, a different team dynamic — the inclusion of feeling like we’re still involved with the military, even though we don’t serve.”

National Wheelchair Basketball Association
Women’s Division Wheelchair Basketball National Championship
13th-Place Game

No. 14 Adaptive Sports Ohio 33, No. 13 ParaSport Spokane 16

11th-Place Game

No. 11 PNW Reign 40, No. 12 Ability360 Mercury 24

Ninth-Place Game

No. 7 Mary Free Bed 28, No. 10 Cincinnati Lady Dragons 18

Seventh-Place Game

No. 5 Lakeshore Lightning 41, No. 8 Memorial Rehabilitation Sharks 18

Fifth-Place Game

No. 9 Angel City Sports 44, No. 6 Dallas Lady Mavericks 38

Third-Place Game

No. 3 Arizona Storm 49, No. 4 LWSRA Lady Hawks 41


No. 1 WASA Marquette Eagles 75, No. 2 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 51

National Wheelchair Basketball Association
Military Division Wheelchair Basketball National Championship
Third-Place Game

No. 1B Florida Renegades 40, No. 2B ParaSport Spokane 39


No. 2A Wolfpack Vets 68, No. 1A Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 53

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