Kiwanis basketball program concludes 45th year

It was a bruising game, when Black took on Blue during the championship game of the St. James Kiwanis Basketball Program Thurday, December 18.

"At this level it's a recreational league," said volunteer referee and program organizer Chris Mueller. "But there's no question these boys are playing to win."

The program, which began the first of November and ran through December with weekly games and practices, culminated in the championship game when the Blue team took on the Black team.

A crowded gym of cheering elementary students looked on as the Black team emerged triumphant 36-25 after surging to an early lead 15-2 lead to start the game. Blue broke an 11-0 run in the first quarter with a bucket to bring the score to 15-4 with 1:00 minute left to play in the first. Black answered with a inside basket of its own, and the first quarter would set the tone for the rest of the matchup stifling any Blue attempt to crawl back into the game.

A late fourth quarter push by the Blue team pulled the team within single digits 34-25 with less than a minute to play in the game. But again Black answered stifling the run and securing the championship.

The Kiwanis basketball program is in its 45th year, said group member JoAnn Kimerle.

Each participant gets to play every quarter. There were about 75 boys who participated this year, ranging from third grade to sixth.

There are a number of volunteers who help make the program successful year after year, said Mueller, including Chris Ford and others who volunteer as coaches, referees and scorekeepers.

"The program is setup to give all boys a chance to play basketball," Mueller said. "And for many of them they may never play it again, or for some they may go on to be stars at the high school level."

During certain games referees stop play to explain rules violations, said Kiwanian Jim Highfill.

"It exposes the boys to the rules of basketball," Highfill said.

During the championship game, the Black team