YMCA crowns basketball champions

The YMCA youth basketball league recently wrapped up its 2017 season with an awards night on Feb. 16, where certificates for participation and trophies were handed out.

The season included 10 games played throughout January and February, and consisted of 20 teams divided up into four age groups.

According to league director Jason Griffin, it was the largest number of signups that the league has had since it began three years ago. Over 150 kids participated this year.

“My expectation is that it will continue to grow,” Griffin said. “I’ve been shocked by the number of kids that have shown the interest in basketball. It has really taken hold, and we’re rolling along.”

Champions were awarded for their record in the league, as well as a tournament title that followed the season.

Teams in the 7-8, 9-10 and 13-14 age divisions won both the league and tournament championships, while two separate champions were crowned in the 11-12 age group.

“We started it because there was no other option outside of Upward,” Griffin said.

Upward is an organization with the goal of providing youth sports in a Christian environment.

There are also youth basketball leagues in Jemison and Maplesville.

Griffin hopes to eventually add a high school division for ages 15-16 that could be implemented as early as next year.

“It would still give students, who are not playing school ball, the option to play,” Griffin said.

A partnership was developed between the YMCA and Clanton Middle School to use the school’s gym to host games in order to accommodate the continued expansion.

“If you ride by the YMCA on Saturdays, there is nowhere to park,” Griffin said. “The gyms are just packed with people. The excitement level has been crazy.”

Cheerleaders were another new addition this season, with about 15 girls that signed up and added to the atmosphere during games.

Games were played on Saturdays and continued throughout the day, often times beginning at 9 a.m. and ending around 4 p.m.

“We also had to play some during the week as well, because we played so many games,” Griffin said.

As the league continues to grow, so does the importance of parent and volunteer involvement in the lasting success of the program.

According to Griffin, several coaches this year did not have kids in the league, but just enjoy teaching the game of basketball.

“The coaches give their time, and it can be a big commitment,” Griffin said.

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