MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — The Knicks defeated the Sixers 22-14 in the youth basketball 10-to 12-year-old division championship game at IronWork’s Gym April 15.
“The game went well,” said David Rausch, center for the Knicks. “We won. I’m happy.”
The Knicks were presented with a first place trophy and special recognition at the closing ceremony held at IronWorks Gym, April 17 to recognize all youth basketball divisions, including ages 3-4, 5-6, 7-9, 10-12 and 13-14.
Steve Navar, team coach, said that it took the Knicks a few games to realize how important it was to work as a team in order to win.
Once these basic sportsmanship concepts were adopted among the players, the Knicks players began to overcome opposing teams, gain confidence and carry out a successful season.
“The main thing that we were focusing on during the season was working as a team,” said Navar. “In the end, they became team players and did an outstanding job.”
The Knicks practiced Wednesdays and Fridays to improve their basic ball-handling skills. The team worked on layups, freethrows and dribbling the ball.
Navar focused on each player’s weaknesses and incorporated plays, drills and fun ways to help the player improve.
If a player missed a freethrow during practice, he/she would have to run suicides as an incentive to work on his/her deficiencies, said Navar.
“We got stronger with our freethrows,” said Mateo Navar, player for the Knicks. “The team didn’t want to do suicides, so we worked on that and got better.”
Steve Navar kept the team motivated and reminded them that these games are not all about winning.
“If we come out here and we have fun, that’s all that matters,” said Steve Navar.
The children wore smiles during the season closing ceremony as parents cheered and each team walked up to receive a trophy for their participation.
Marine Corps Community Services held a cookout after the ceremony to provide hotdogs, soda, chips and kettle corn for all who attended.
“The biggest satisfaction I get out of all of it is to see the kids have the opportunity to participate,” said Ricardo Romero, youth sports coordinator with MCCS.
“They all got playing time, they all got opportunity and they all had fun.” For more information about youth sports programs and events, call 253-3239.