Three months ago, Mason joined our local YMCA’s 10-and-under winter basketball league. (He turned 11 just after the league’s cut off date.) I knew Mason liked shooting baskets, but before he signed up for the YMCA league none of us knew if he was any good at actually playing basketball. Turns out, he’s not half bad. His height (he’s tied for the tallest kid on the team) has given him an advantage when it comes to rebounding, and he’s become the team’s default tip-off artist. He’s got a knack for dropping three-point shots, and more importantly, he enjoys playing. We’ve had a blast watching him play and he’s had a blast playing. He’s also lost 10-15 pounds throughout the duration of the season.
Mason’s team went 7-1 for the season; the team that beat them went 8-0. Only the best team from each YMCA got to go to state, which left Mason’s team out (and his team disappointed). However, due to a shortage of teams Mason’s team was extended an invite. Last weekend, we attended our first basketball tournament.
The tournament was in Weatherford, which is about an hour west of here. Mason’s first game was at 9am but the coaches wanted everybody there by 8:15am. We actually wanted to be there by 8am which meant leaving no later than 7am, and figuring in time for gas, breakfast and coffee, we ended up leaving around 6:30am.
Mason’s team is pretty good for a bunch of nine and ten year old kids. Some are better than others, sure, but you don’t go 7-1 throughout the season without being able to play some semblance of basketball. The tournament was double elimination, so we expected to be in Weatherford for most of Saturday.
Our first game was against “Team X,” lead by “Coach X.” Even before tip-off, I knew we were in trouble. Somehow, almost every kid on Team X was taller than Mason, which is pretty amazing since before this tournament, Mason was just about the tallest kid we had ever seen in the league.
To say Team X was good was an understatement. Not only could they shoot layups (which they proved, repeatedly), but they also played a full-court press defense the entire game. A full-court defense is when you defensively smother the other team the moment after they make a basket. Each time our team was handed the ball after Team X scored, at least one (usually two) members of Team X would run up and crowd the kid trying to in bound the ball while Coach X shouted, “Press! Press!” This lead to at least a dozen turnovers on the inbound — maybe more. Our kids simply had never experienced this type of aggressive defense before, and it’s a shame that got to see it for the first time in a tournament setting.
Speaking of aggressive, Coach X’s continual yelling at the refs and contesting of every single call earned him a technical foul. I want to paint this picture properly for you. This is at a YMCA basketball tournament for 10 year old kids. Getting a technical at a YMCA tournament is like being drunk in church. It’s more than unsportsmanlike; it’s particularly uncouth and showed an absolute lack of class.
At least Mason got to shoot the free throws for the technical.
Mason’s team lost their first game and moved to the loser’s bracket where they were scheduled to play again two hours later. After a light breakfast and some coffee in downtown Weatherford, we returned to the court to find Coach X still there. Turns out, Coach X coaches multiple teams, and now we were facing his second team, Team Y.
I really wanted our kids to beat Team Y, and early on it was obvious we wouldn’t. Team Y played the same aggressive full-court style of basketball as previous team did (no big surprise there). It was one of those games where nothing went right for us, and everything went right for them. Even Morgan, cheering from the stands, couldn’t help our team win.
With roughly 20 seconds to go, a kid from Team Y tried to jump in Mason’s way and the two ended up colliding heads. We’re still not sure if Mason got knocked out or not, but after 10-15 seconds of lying on the court and not moving, I hopped out of my seat and went down to the court. They hit hard enough to bend Mason’s glasses and give him a little knot on his forehead. After a minute or so I walked Mason off and everyone clapped.
He went back in for the last play. Down by four, one of his teammates found him and Mason immediately began running the wrong way, away from the goal. “What are you doing!” I yelled, thinking he was confused. But no, Mason ran out to the three point line and right as the final buzzer went off he spun, jumped, and hit one last three-point shot. The shot didn’t count, and our team ended up losing by four.
“That kid kept fouling me so I was going for a four-point play,” he told me after the game.
So, we lost the tournament and got sent home. The coaches did their best to cheer up the obviously upset kids. They had a great season and just smothered by some aggressive kids and their aggressive coach.
Between practice and games I’ve learned the names of most of the kids on Mason’s team: there’s little Moe, Q and “Church” (named for his black socks), Tobias, Hunter, and all the kids. The parents on the other team knew some of the kids too, as the man next to us kept yelling, “WILLIAM MAKE A FREAKIN’ LAYUP WILL YA?”
I’m sure glad Mason ended up on the team he did and I hope next year he can hook back up with the same coaches and teammates and make another run at the title.Share on Facebook