What a thrill it was to watch Aaron compete in the 2013 LDS Young Men’s Cluster Tournament yesterday morning. The team was a bit depleted due to baseball tournaments in St. George, but when 10 AM rolled around Aaron looked at the three other players on his team and they were are ready as they were ever going to be. Unfortunately they were looking at a team of 8 that included four over 16 years of age, and some with a great deal of basketball experience.
Aaron took charge of the situation by driving, shooting, and scoring. The highpoint of the game is his shot that put them up 18 to 17 with just over 5 minutes to go in the half.
The game went downhill from there. Up to that point the team was on fire. Gordon hit a couple of threes that really helped keep the enthusiasm going. JT also sank some shots that caught the defenders by surprise. Jake was just happy to be there, not really loving basketball, but wanting to support his friends. Paco, who just turned 12 a few weeks ago, was called at game time and arrived to make it a somewhat more even 5 on 5. Keep in mind that 12-13 year olds are deemed to young to play, yet Paco held his own and had a really good time. It all started to go down hill when the green team finally realized that they should take their number four player and stick him to Aaron and try to slow him down. It was then that their big man realized that he actually was much bigger than anybody else on the court and he could have his way on the inside.
I was happy to not have to referee Aaron’s game, although I did ref the game before and those after. It allowed me the ability to enjoy it as a Father and snap a few photos of the fun.
I think what I enjoyed most was watching Aaron’s confidence as he would take the ball, dribble, spin, and put up some great shots over the outstretched hands of those taller than he. I know that Aaron has loved his growth spurt this year and he is looking forward to really taking off.
Take a look at this photo where Aaron got off his shot with a defender coming from behind and another in front of him without being blocked...
And then there was the defense. Aaron was willing to mix it up with everybody as he fought hard for loose balls and rebounds. Check out this image where Aaron went into the accordion doors, along with the big man on the other team, all in an attempt to save the ball.
It was interesting when Aaron picked up his second foul in about the first 4 minutes of game time. Both he and I flashed back to a similar game last year when he played so aggressively unsmart that he fouled out of the game and had to watch from the bench. With only 4 players (Paco had yet to arrive), Aaron knew that he needed to get back under control, yet keep up the intensity because fouling out would have been an immediate forfeit with only 3 players left on the court. So with two fouls Aaron kept playing hard, but it was hilarious as the green player #4 drove to the bucket and Aaron went hard towards him and then pulled back at the last second. The green player was so faked out that he threw up an embarrassingly bad miss thinking that he was going to get hit hard by Aaron. With no contact #4 was fully juked by Aaron’s fake and all that could be heard was a loud groan from #4 as the awful shot greatly missed the mark. That one play defined Aaron’s maturation with the sport. A year ago #4 would have painfully gone hard to the floor and then gone to the line after Aaron would have hacked him hard. Aaron is now wiser and smarter to the fact that his team is better with him on the court without any foul trouble. Interestingly, Aaron finished the game with just 3 fouls and he was able to play hard the entire game.
To say that I was proud, even in defeat, is an understatement. Aaron is a graceful winner, but he also is a gracious loser as he congratulates and thanks all of those involved with the game... Including the organizers and the referees. Way-2-Go Aaron!!!