Youths play ball in Marion

Staff writer

Hundreds of area youths filled the Marion courts Saturday with one aim: they wanted to play basketball.

“It’s a great opportunity to play some ball,” said Edward Wilson of Chase County. “We always have a lot of fun.”

The 2012-13 Marion Youth Basketball League started season play Dec. 1. They have played five regular games and have one remaining before they enter the post-season tournament on Feb. 2 and Feb. 9.

Organizer Margo Yates is impressed with this year’s turnout, saying that 50 teams participated this year, containing children in third to sixth grade. She said many traveled a distance for the competition, some coming from as far as Salina.

Marion youths formed eight teams and were strong competitors throughout the tournament.

“I just kept thinking that I wanted our team to win,” player Vance Klassen said. “If we are determined and want it bad enough, we can do anything we set our minds on.”

It didn’t matter whether they were playing the game, watching from the sidelines, or exiting the gymnasiums, all of the area youths had one thing in common: they were glad to be there.

And they weren’t the only ones. Family members, friends, and spectators alike smiled as they sat in the bleachers, expecting and waiting for their favorite athlete to help their team win the game.

“You get this thrill when the kids play,” said Lauren Wright of Wichita. “It’s like you are telling them to do really well, but at the same time you are inwardly wanting the kids on the other team to fall flat on their faces.”

Dylan Simmons of the Berean Warriors appreciated the support of the crowd.

“It’s amazing to hear them,” he said. “I know that they want me to do my best, to do what I love — and that makes me happy.”

His mother, Traci, said she is proud of her son’s performance.

“He hasn’t actually played outside of school on the same team with these kids,” she said. “I didn’t know how they would gel together as a team, but they seem to be doing a great job so far. Everyone seems to be having a great time too. I couldn’t be happier.”

The teams will continue to practice this week. Season play continues on Saturday. Afterward, the qualifying teams will play in the tourney, which will be the first two Saturdays in February.

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