Youth basketball wins tournament

Gray Hughes

A Hill City Youth Athletics team made up of boys from first through third grade won the Polar Bear Classic Basketball Tournament for their age group last week.

According to head coach Andi Bauer, this was the culmination of hard work.

“We started off the year rough, but we picked it up quickly,” she said.

This was Bauer’s first year coaching basketball; however, she is not new with boys sports. She has coached that same group of kids in wrestling, soccer, baseball and football since some of them were in kindergarten.

She said the team worked together in the beginning to figure out what to do.

She said one challenge the team faced was the fact they were playing older boys.

“It had been really defeating for my boys,” Bauer said. “It has been rough, and we have been running our drills and learning stuff and just coming in and doing our best on the games and giving it our all. ...My saying to them every time is: let’s go on this court, give it your all, you leave your heart out there and you walk away with your chin up no matter what happens. We said that every single game before the game.”

Bauer said going into the tournament the competition would be fierce, but her team caught a break: for the first time, they would be playing boys their age rather than in grades above them.

Her team picked up everything they had been working on since day one, Bauer said, and she said she was able to watch her team come together and play as one.

After playing two games on Saturday, Bauer said she told her team to come ready to play the next and leave it all out on the floor.

“And they went in and right off the bat they were working together, passing, doing our drills, came up strong in the beginning and ended up winning,” she said. “We didn’t even know we got first place until right at the end. They were just ecstatic. They worked so hard for it, so it was really an amazing feeling.”

Bauer said she knows these are vital points in the kids’ lives.

This, she said, is where these kids get their foundation and decide what they want to do moving forward.

And, toward the end, Bauer said the team felt like a family.

“They will keep working on their strengths and working on their goals,” she said. “This gives them a good foundation. They have friends, and sports really just brings that out. I think, from the beginning of the season ‘til where we ended they have grown so much, and that is so amazing to watch. ... It has been great since kindergarten up until now to build that bond with them. I am so excited to see where they are going to keep going forward in the future.”

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