Title boosts Columbia Catz

Tournament is a fun way to show what they have learned.
Monday, March 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:07 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

After stealing the ball with five minutes left in the third quarter, Ian Patterson immediately started on a fast break.

Once Patterson realized he did not have a clear path to the basket, he slowed down and waited for teammate Will Echelmeier to get down the court. Patterson then passed the ball to Echelmeier under the basket for a layup.

It should not come as a surprise that Patterson would make such a mature play. Patterson, 10, is practically a veteran.

“I’ve been playing since kindergarten,” Patterson said.

Patterson and the Columbia Catz beat the Jackson Flash 29-17 at Rock Bridge in the finals of the fourth-grade boys’ recreational division of the Show-Me State Games youth basketball tournament Sunday.

The Catz beat the Trojans and the Mighty Bucks earlier in the day to reach the title game. The tournament featured teams from across Missouri and Kansas.

Catz coach Tom Burkett said having a tournament such as this in Columbia is beneficial to the community as well as the players.

“It brings people to Columbia and gives the kids a little different flavor of basketball,” Burkett said.

Conner Burkett led the Catz against the Flash with eight points. He said winning the tournament was exciting.

“It feels good,” Conner said.

Burkett, who has been coaching youth basketball for 25 years, said he was proud of his players’ achievements on the court.

“We’ve got a great group of kids,” Burkett said. “You couldn’t ask for more.”

Conner said the team is learning many aspects of basketball.

“Mostly defense,” Conner said.

Patterson said playing on an organized team has helped him learn the game.

“We have to show a lot of teamwork and communicate,” Patterson said.

Patterson and his teammates showed some of what they learned against the Flash.

Patterson scored four points by hitting two jump shots near the three-point line, and Echelmeier used a mixture of jump shots and layups to score seven points.

Conner, a forward, scored all of his points from the low post and worked hard rebounding along with Nathaniel Eghereuebr, another forward. Carter Marcks scored three points for the Catz, and Jeffery Ausmus, Brad Troyer and Eghereuebr each scored two. Marcks is one of two 9 year-olds on the team, and all the other players are 10.

Burkett said seeing young players develop is one of the most rewarding parts of coaching.

“I love it,” Burkett said.

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