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Looking for a great night of basketball? It's elementary


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Those Parkside fans had the right idea, and they did a good job showing what Super Saturday is all about.

No, I’m not talking about the guy with the Bozo yellow hair and suspenders, although that was fun, too.

I’m talking about the two-minute mark of the Elementary Basketball League girls championship game at Columbus North High School on, OK it’s redundant, Saturday.

Parkside was buried 24-12 against Richards and considering it would have to score as many points in the final two minutes as it did the rest of the game, well, the Pirates were toast.

That didn’t matter to their faithful, still in full force, who gave Augustina Fainguersch a burst of cheers when she made a basket, then broke into a “defense, defense, defense,” chant. Yes, they did have some foam fingers, too.

Those medals given to the champion Raiders, who won 26-13, and the runner-up Pirates will go on a shelf. That support goes to the heart.

The fact an estimated 700 or so fans would spend a Saturday night at an elementary tournament also means more than making sure a bunch of kids have a feel-good event. It means the community is building a foundation for basketball in the future.

When you look at the quality right now of the Columbus North and Columbus East basketball programs, you realize high school basketball should remain healthy if the programs below them flourish.

On Saturday night, the prize coming out of elementary school boys basketball appeared to be Richards’ Matt Frost, who led his team to the boys championship with a 19-point game that could have been 39 points if he so desired. Frost was the tallest guy on the court, the best dribbler, best shooter, best rebounder and he had the best handwriting.

Well, I’m sure his handwriting would have been the best if we had seen it.

He was too busy dominating a game that should have been down-to-the-wire instead of a 45-29 Richards’ breeze against Southside, which had won the previous four Super Saturday title games and had split two games with Richards during the season.

Raiders coach Barry Turnbow, who started coaching elementary basketball 13 years ago and decided it was too much fun to stop, devised a plan to attack Southside’s Trent Kelley, who was the Mustangs’ answer to Frost. You knew Kelley was good before the game because he jumped up and touched the bottom of the net.

If he would touch the ball during the game, the Raiders would collapse on him from every angle. Those guys could read the care instructions inside his uniform.

With Kelley held somewhat in check, it was up to the rest of the guys, some with legs skinnier than their water bottles, to carry the day. It wasn’t enough.

“I thought this was great,” Turnbow said about the entire event, which started Monday with first-round games. “I think everybody did a good job keeping their heads.”

The event featured three officials, which from what I understand is one more than usual at an elementary game. At some levels, an extra official means that some fans have to think harder to come up with an entirely new set of insults. Not so, though, on Saturday. People really were respectful.

The play on the court was pretty solid and mimicked that of their high school heroes ... only shorter. They announced the starters, who ran under the cheerleaders’ pom-poms and you got all the trappings of big-time basketball, such as endless hand-slapping at the free throw line.

Then you had those moments that you get with fifth- and sixth-graders, because we all grow at different speeds. Southside’s Grant Trinkle put up a shot that Frost gobbled up and shoved back the other way. Trinkle had to think he was trying to shoot over a giraffe. Unbowed, Trinkle came back later, drove through the Richards’ trees and sank a nifty lay-up.

There weren’t enough of those moments for Southside, which could only watch Richards’ Julian Greenwell use a shot-put technique to hit a field goal and Logan Brewer toss the ball back up over his head and into the net. It was that kind of night for Richards, which seemed destined to win.

In the girls game, Richards’ Nadia Lomax simply was faster than everyone else when she broke into her long stride toward the basket. Her teammate, Tayler Brewer, realizing such an advantage, would clear the boards and heave a baseball pass toward the other end. Lomax would run it down and lay it in.

Sure, the girls game wasn’t exciting, but that’s life. If you lined the girls up from both teams by height, you would get a staircase.

Saturday’s games were simply one very fun step.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at jheater@therepublic.com or 379-5632.

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