CGBA youth basketball finishes with a flurry

Youth basketball players, from left to right, Andre Niko, Henry Begay, Nolan Cates and Jason Hull offer a positive glimpse to the future locally with continued growth and development across all ages. With the Columbia Gorge Basketball Academy being available to give boys and girls an outlet on the hardwood, there are reasons for optimism in the future.

Once the two days of daylong basketball action are completed, Columbia Gorge Basketball Academy coordinator Greg Cummings is spent.

So much goes into the planning and organization of a smoothly-run tournament, so while he was exhausted after the third annual Winter Classic on Feb. 23-24, he celebrated the volunteers, the coaches, the officials and everyone who had a hand in making everything run like clockwork.

“It is nice knowing where we were as a basketball academy six years ago and where we are at today,” Cummings said. “Like I’ve always said, we couldn’t do it without all the coaches and volunteers and parent support. These teams have traveled a lot to different venues, so that is why if we don’t have the parent support, we can’t do this kind of a program.”

CGBA teams secured two first-place outcomes of the six age divisions, as the sixth graders defeated Sandy, 34-28, and the CGBA seventh graders claimed a 49-29 victory over Stanfield to place first.

The Northwest Hoopers, coached by Steven Begay, had players hailing from Sherman, Dufur, The Dalles and other surrounding areas, and that group defeated Sandy in the seventh and eighth grade championship, 47-34.

The Dalles Elite, coached by Brian Stevens, posted a lopsided 38-24 win versus South Albany for a title and the Hood River Flames captured the fifth-grade crown after beating South Wasco County, 38-20.

Corbett won the sixth-through-eighth grade girls division, but the CGBA squad rolled past The Dalles Middle School by a 32-19 final for third place in the five-team bracket.

In the fourth-grade division, CGBA placed third with its defeat of Sherman, 29-16, so it was a good mix of local teams that came away with a sense of accomplishment.

As he woke up Sunday morning to six feet of snow on the ground, Cummings asked himself if any games would go on as scheduled.

Visitors from out of town were staying in hotels and he did not want to turn them away empty-handed.

But all of championship Sunday action went on without a hitch.

“It was a great weekend of basketball. We had 33 teams from all over the state ready to play,” Cummings said. “We were able to squeeze out all of our games as scheduled, which is great. It was nice to have the support of the school district to make sure we were able to play our games today.”

Cummings saw some familiar faces on the hardwood as well, especially since he has been around these young men and women for five years and witnessed their skillsets blossom to a more advanced level.

“It seems like in every tournament we see the skills are higher, the kids are bigger, stronger, faster and the level of play has increased,” Cummings said. “It is fun to see all of our kids rise to the occasion and play in their own age division. You want them to be able to compete on a level playing field, and it is nice with the growth of this league, we can offer that to them.”

Tournament players hailed from Hermiston, Sandy, Corbett, Stanfield, Dufur, The Dalles, Hood River, White Salmon and Goldendale, to name a few, so that means coaches and parents are big believers in what the CGBA is offering.

One key is rounding up quality officials to call games throughout a busy weekend.

At the end of the day, that’s what parents want. They want a fair game called, coaches want a fair game called, and the fans and the kids want a fair game called.

“We have been very blessed with the level of referees that we have seen for these tournaments here,” Cummings said. “The local officials organization has been very supportive of us and they have made sure that we have good, quality officiating. I feel like people want to come back to our tournament because No. 1, it is well-run, and No. 2, we have good facilities, and No. 3, we have good officials that keep the game going and are fair.”

If there are any questions regarding the program, call Cummings at 541-980-5978, email gcummings11@gmail.com or check out the CGBA Facebook page.

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