Playing inside the lines: Basketball tournament completely organized by kids
JANESVILLE–Crowds cheered, gasped at surprise jump shots and chanted for good defense.
Referee whistles blew.
Players chugged water and Gatorade.
Basketball season was alive Thursday in the driveway of the George Lynch home in Janesville.
For a second year, the slab of concrete was the scene of a bracketed, two-on-two basketball tournament organized by neighborhood kids.
Cade Badertscher, 14, and Nick Lynch, 14, started it last summer.
“We were just really bored one day, so we just called up 10 kids and had a tournament,” Badertscher said.
What started as a short afternoon of random games developed into The Lynch 2 on 2 Tournament. Ten teams squared off Thursday starting at 10:30 a.m. They played for more than five hours.
Badertscher and Lynch refereed in their black polos and whistles, calling fouls and keeping the players in line.
Kids waiting for their turn on the court watched the clock and kept score on an iPhone app.
Players turned into spectators, eagerly watching the ongoing games and cheering.
A bracket drawn up on a poster board was tapped to the garage wall, along side a list of all the teams with their creative team names.
The tournament was not to be taken lightly.
The tournament Thursday was among several in the driveway this summer, but the first for a younger group of kids, ages 11 to 13. They expected to have one more tournament before the school year begins.
Each player pays $5 to enter a tournament. The fee covered water, Gatorade and food.
Each game has five-minute halves, with two-minute halftimes.
The two top teams won a trophy and cash prize, and a most valuable player was selected, too.
“They take this very seriously,” said George Lynch, whose driveway was the chalk-drawn court Thursday. “They make T-shirts, and some of their parents provide snacks for the day. A lot of the fun is just getting ready for the tournament.”
George's sons Nick and Jacob, 12, play in the tournaments. Jacob helped get the tournament for the younger kids started and helps referee and keep score when he's not on the court.
“It's really fun to have all of our friends over here,” Jacob said. “We all like basketball, and not all of them play for a team, so it's just really fun to have a chance to play.”
Most of the kids are experienced players. Jacob and others play for the Janesville Heat in a youth basketball league, which helped them create the rules and guidelines for the tournaments. Some of the rules included:
-- If someone from the audience influences or argues with the referee, they will be sent to the backyard until the game is over.
-- If a player is ejected, then his teammate has to play by himself.
-- Every game starts with a jump ball. The shorter person gets the top of the slanted driveway.
-- Team jerseys are optional, but you may not use any of Jacob Lynch's clothing unless he says so.
-- No going into the house after the tournament starts.
J.J. Brennan, 13, and Sam Nemetz, 13, trained specifically for the Lynch tournament, where they played as the Pink Demons. They practiced their plays Wednesday night and warmed up with lay-up drills before play Thursday.
J.J. and Sam, as well as most of the other kids, heard about the tournament from their teammates on the Heat and other friends.
“I really had nothing to do, and it's really fun to be here,” J.J. said.