The Times photo by Betsy ReasonThe Times basketball team at the Boys & Girls Club.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

The Times basketball team at the Boys & Girls Club.

You might think 5- and 6-year-old basketball players wouldn't be very competitive. But it is quite the opposite.

Players run back and forth to their ends of the court. They guard the basket. They take advantage of a loose basketball. They shoot and score.

The Times newspaper is once again sponsoring a team in the winter basketball league at the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville.

I grabbed a seat on the floor to watch this week's game. That's because the bleachers were filled with parents, brothers, sisters and grandmas and grandpas cheering on the little ones.

Yes, the players are little ones. Boys and girls in kindergarten and first grade. There are six teams in that age division.

The Times' team coach is Josh Morey. His 5-year-old son, Owen, wearing a No. 10 light-blue jersey, a kindergartner at Stony Creek Elementary, is one of the veterans on the team. He's been playing basketball since he could fit his hands around the ball.

"The rules are a bit different because we don't keep score," Josh Morey said after the game.

There are no violation calls and no referees. "We are the referees," said Morey, who followed the players on the court from one end to the other. "The coaches ref together."

There are "no steals" and "no blocked shots."

He said. "We try to just teach them the basics and just have fun. It's all about having fun."

Sometimes, the players travel, or carry the ball a ways before remembering to dribble. "We try to teach them not to, but traveling is kind of part of it at this age," said Morey, whose assistant coach is David Flynn, whose daughter, Riley, is on older-division team.

The coaches focus on the fundamentals of passing, dribbling, shooting and playing as a team, and that "defense is important, too." Morey said. Players know who to guard by the color of their arm band, which matches an opposing player.

Satisfaction comes in watching the kids' success. Like seeing a player sink his or her first basket.

On this particular night, the ball was moving, and defense was good. Morey said, "I was happy with all of it."

The Times-sponsored team will play at 6:30 p.m. Monday and Feb. 27, March 6 and 13, with a tournament at 9 a.m. March 18 at Noblesville High School. To see the schedule, download the new Boys & Girls Club app. Don't forget, the Club's pancake breakfast is 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

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