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12/28/05 Interview with Minnesota Team

The basketball tournament held at Blue Valley West High School in Stilwell, Kansas attracted teams from many different areas. One such team was group of 6th and 7th grade girls from Minnesota known as the Lady Suns. The Lady Suns came to this tournament two years ago and decided to come again this year for a challenge. Even after an eight-hour drive, these girls seemed full of energy and ready to play.

The team is composed of 9 players that come from different cities in the Minneapolis Metropolitan area. Even though the girls often play against each other on separate traveling teams, they still are able to form strong bonds with one another. They are described as being cordial and like to meet and greet with everyone they come in contact. These social girls are able to form friendships with both the players on their own team as well as others.

Greg Arbogast and Peter Long coach this winning team. The girls travel often and play on a national level. The players on the team are driven by this fast paced sport. It is their passion. They are “basketball junkies,” says coach Arbogast. The girls may not know exactly what their futures will hold, but they do know that it will involve basketball.

12/28/05 YMCA vs. Kansas City Keys (1:50 PM)

One of the first games of the day held at Blue Valley West High School was a game played between YMCA and the Kansas City Keys. It is a back and forth game that begins very quickly. The boys on both teams have their minds set on winning. They play the game with all of their hearts. Pressure builds from the sidelines as onlookers cheer on their favorite team. No, this is not college basketball game. The players on these teams have barely begun their schooling. The players of these teams are composed of several 1st through 3rd graders, but don’t let their small size fool you. They are tomorrow’s NBA stars.

As the game begins, the Kansas City Keys make the first 2-point shot. The game quickly escalates with the Keys making three more 2-point shots, not leaving any room for shots to be made by the opposing team. Half way though the first half of the game, #11 from YMCA scores the first points for his team by making a 2-point basket. Kansas City Keys quickly responds by scoring another two points, bringing the score to 2 to 10 with the Keys leading by eight points. YMCA scores another 2 points when #3 on their team is fouled and makes two free-throw shots. With only ten seconds left for the first half of the game, players on both teams try to frantically rush the ball to their goal to score final points before the buzzer. Family members cheer from their chairs while coaches yell to players from the sidelines. No final points are made, however, and the final score of the first half is 10 to 14 with the Kansas City Keys leading by four points.

After a pep talk from coaches, the teams are ready to enter the second half of the game. Number #11 makes the first 2-point shot for YMCA for the second half. The next score is made by #3 for the Kansas City Keys. The game continues and the game eventually becomes tied with 16 points for both teams. Less than a minute later, the game becomes tied again with 18 points for each team. The game continues this way with YMCA desperately trying to pull ahead. With such effort being shown by both sides, an injury was bound to happen. Number 2 from YMCA falls hard and sits out the remainder of the game. With only seconds left, final attempts to score are made. The game ends with a score of 24 to 26 with the Keys winning by two points.

After the game, Coach Harold Johnson congratulates and talks to the Kansas City Keys about the winning game. Overall, the game went well, even though the game became hectic at times. He followed up by reminding them that playing a basketball game isn’t about scoring the most points, but that it’s about the TEAM. The most important part was that all of the players enjoyed themselves. Curtis Lewis, #10 for the Kansas City Keys, said that he had a lot of fun, although he was very shy in saying so. Other team players seemed to share Curtis’s views. The team had a drive to win. With this and a little encouragement from parents and coaches, the team came out on top.

12/29/05 Mustangs vs. Team Nitro (3:00 PM)

It was 3:00 PM when the first game of the day was to begin at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kansas. The game featured the Mustangs playing against Team Nitro. The winning team would become the 1st place team for the 4th grade boys division of the basketball tournament.

In the first half of the game #12 from the Mustangs makes the first shot. The next score is made by #45 who is fouled and is given a free-throw shot. He makes the shot. The next two points are made by #45 from the Mustangs. Number 23 from the Mustangs follows #45 by making a lay-up shot. Number 22 from Team Nitro is pulled from the game because of his attitude at about the middle of the first half of the game. The Mustangs continue to make shot after shot as Team Nitro trails behind. A final 2-point shot is made by the Mustangs with only five seconds left at the half, making the score 38 to 13 with Mustangs leading by a comfortable twenty-five points.

The second half of the game begins with a foul. Number 55 from Team Nitro is fouled. He misses the first free-throw but makes the second. He is followed by #4, also from Team Nitro, who scores two points. Next, #20 from the Mustangs is fouled and only makes his second free-throw shot. Number 23 from Team Nitro is then fouled and takes two free-throw shots, making the first, but missing the second. Number 00 from the Mustangs makes the next 2-point shot followed by #20 who scores another 2-point shot for the Mustangs. This score is quickly answered by a 2-point shot made by Team Nitro. Number 22, who had been pulled earlier in the game, is now sent back in to play. He rushes the ball to score 2-points. The game continues. There is under a minute left on the clock and Team Nitro has not been able to surpass the score set by the Mustangs. The game ends with the final score of 53 to 27, making the Mustangs the Champions for the 4th grade division of the tournament.

The Mustangs, led by coach Fritz, seemed quite content with their win. When asked how they felt about their win, they didn’t have much to say. “We won!” shouted one of the boys. “We win all of the games [we play],” said Luke, #00. “It wasn’t that exciting.” For a team that placed second in the Nationals, their reactions to their recent win is understandable. These players have a lot of talent that will take them far in their basketball careers. The skills they exhibited in their playing could rival that of any professional player.

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