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Buckley Co-Hosts Front Range Youth Basketball Tournament

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Kristin Beutel (Left), Rebekah Owings (Center), and Alexis Wall (Right), sing the National Anthem at the Youth Basketball game held at the Buckley Fitness Center March 11, 2011. The Buckley Color guard posted the colors while the National Anthem was sung.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Kristin Beutel (Left), Rebekah Owings (Center), and Alexis Wall (Right), sing the National Anthem at the Youth Basketball game held at the Buckley Fitness Center March 11, 2011. The Buckley Color guard posted the colors while the National Anthem was sung. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Kennedy Brown defends against an opponent at the Youth basketball game held at the Fitness Center March 11, 2011. The Buckley Panthers made it to the Semi-finals with a standing of six wins and three losses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Kennedy Brown defends against an opponent at the Youth basketball game held at the Fitness Center March 11, 2011. The Buckley Panthers made it to the Semi-finals with a standing of six wins and three losses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- The Buckley Panthers huddle up before starting their game at the Fitness Center March 11, 2011. All players signed up, there were no tryouts held. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- The Buckley Panthers huddle up before starting their game at the Fitness Center March 11, 2011. All players signed up, there were no tryouts held. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Buckley Panther Jerseys and water bottles are lined up for the team before the big game at the Fitness Center, March 11, 2011. Players are the children of retired, DoD civilians and active duty military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Buckley Panther Jerseys and water bottles are lined up for the team before the big game at the Fitness Center, March 11, 2011. Players are the children of retired, DoD civilians and active duty military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Alex Vasquez warms up before a basketball game held at the Fitness Center March 11, 2011. Alex was one of three girls who plays for the Buckley Panthers.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Alex Vasquez warms up before a basketball game held at the Fitness Center March 11, 2011. Alex was one of three girls who plays for the Buckley Panthers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo -- They don't really play Guard or Forward. The mad dash from backboard to backboard rewards the fleet of foot with rebounds and shots at the basket. The competition doesn't necessarily go to the tallest, either. Some of the smallest and lightest are the fastest, and so wind up with the ball. There was no zone or man-to-man defense, just a mass of arms and legs and heads with a ball crowding under the basket for a couple of brief instants, and then flying off down the court for the other basket like a giant cloud of insects. It was amazing how good they were! They're young, running anywhere between eleven and fifteen. They were boys and girls. They were intense, playing like every second and every shot meant the game. They call themselves the Buckley Panthers!

On March 11, the Buckley Youth Center brought its own talent to match up against the young Spurs of the United States Air Force Academy in a basketball matchup, at the base fitness center. The kids came prepared and played their hearts out under the direction of Coach Tom Cox, Youth Center Director.

The matchup was professionally presented with a posting of the colors by the base Honor Guard, and a first-class rendition of the National Anthem by Kristin Beutel, Alexis Wall and Rebekah Owings - each precious word correctly sung - each note perfectly delivered.

The game officials wore their black and white stripes and the two coaches, including Buckley's own Tom Cox, ran the sidelines in efforts to communicate with kids who were only hearing pounding basketball shoes, whistles and their own heavy breathing.

Right about the time Tom Cox got to Buckley, things started happening over at Buckley Youth Programs. Mr. Cox has been the driving force behind many of the ingenious activities offered to teens and pre-teens, who've been given a shot at mock deployments, ski trips, the America's Kids Run, a robotics class, and a youth photography class among many, many others.

Seeking to enlarge the world as they know it, Mr. Cox and Youth Program Coordinators from the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Shriever Air Force Base and Fort Carson "got together and decided to hold an end of season basketball extravaganza," said Mr. Cox. "Co-ed teams from two age groups, 11-12 year-olds, and 13-15 year-olds, were to compete for the Front Range Cup, a traveling trophy that will remain with each winning base or post until next year's tournament."

Games were played all over the front range beginning March 10, and concluding on March 12. The 11-12 year-old Buckley Panthers played a total of six games in the tournament, almost winning in the semi-finals versus Fort Carson (the eventual tournament winner), the game turning on a decision from a referee. The 13-15 year-olds lost in the second round to Peterson AFB. It could fairly be said that a good time was had by all.
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