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Weary athletes finish competition

Monday, August 6, 2007 | 12:41 a.m. CDT; updated 3:19 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Our Group player Bennie Moore, left, guards Gateway player Steve Schroeder in Sunday’s men’s basektball event.

Our Group, a 50-and-older men’s basketball team, has won nine gold medals at the Show-Me State games, and Sunday they came within a win of winning their 10th.

Their team name is scrolled in Old English type down the right side of their jerseys, a reference to how long the team has played together.

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“It’s Our Group, because it is the same group of guys that have been playing for 15 years in St. Louis,” Lester Dean said after the teams’ first game on Sunday at Rock Bridge High School.

Our Group defeated Gateway 59-32 to advance to the 2 p.m. title game against Kutis, another team from St. Louis. Kutis had a height advantage while Our Group had more reserves. Kutis established a lead, but Our Group pulled within five points with six minutes to play. The Our Group bench saw it was their best opportunity to move ahead.

“Value each position, and make them count,” Harry Rogers said as he paced the sideline. “This could be our 5-point swing right here.”

Both sides played a physical and fundamentally sound game, but the lead did not change and Kutis won 64-53.

The medal game was the fifth in two days for each team and was one of the last events in third and final weekend of the annual amateur sports festival. Fresh legs were hard to find, and ibuprofen was pulled out of gym bags while some scrutinized how the tournament was run.

“We disagree with the format,” Bennie Moore, 59, of Our Group said. “We just saw that Gateway only got some 30 points today, but they have good ball players. No one has much energy left after playing three games yesterday.”

Despite the long weekend for the teams, players exchanged friendly handshakes after the final buzzer. A few even bantered each other about showing up again next year.

“All you have to do is, don’t stop,” Moore said. “It’s when you stop playing that you’re in trouble.”


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