To some, basketball is more than a game

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:20 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The game was in the fourth quarter when No. 32 dribbles down court and sets up a quick give-and-go to sink yet another 3-point shot. On the side lines the hometown fans cheer for their local team.

Kylee Kunkel Royston, No. 32, an eighth-grade student at Carver Middle School, helped her team throughout their Friday morning Show Me State Games

13-and-under girls basketball game. She scored eight points, including two

3-pointers, in the win.

This team is from Springfield, Mo., where middle school basketball is taken

seriously. During an annual tournament between the eight rival middle schools, coaches picked their most talented athletes for an all-star select team. That team, known as the Crusaders, is the Springfield representative in the Games.

The team not only won their first game Friday against the Middletown, Mo., Shooters, 40-34, but recently earned a championship at the Baxter Springs, Kan., Seventh-Grade Girls Basketball Tournament in February.

Kunkel Royston, who also plays volleyball, softball and runs track, said

“basketball is the most important.” Although she enjoys all of her sports,

she plans to keep playing basketball for as long as she can.

“Volleyball is more fun than basketball, but it’s not as intense or

competitive,” Kunkel Royston said.

The competitiveness of basketball is what keeps her interested, she said.

Her team’s focus on the speed of play makes for a fast-paced game, as well

as their determination to maintain intensity.

Kunkel Royston is convinced that these assets allowed the Crusaders to

overcome a team that was taller and included 6-foot Samantha Heck.

“That tall girl was real intimidating,” Kunkel Royston said.

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