basketball-team-web.jpgOPA-LOCKA — Serious B-Ballers responded to an invitation to compete in Vice Mayor Joseph L. Kelley’s Annual Basketball Classic at the city of Opa-locka’s Sherbondy Village Gymnasium, 215 North Perviz Avenue, arriving on the court early, ready to play and lay claim to the 2012 championship trophies.

Several age divisions competed during the three-day tournament  Dec.  27-29 that culminated with the playoff on Saturday, when Trinity Church faced the city of Opa-locka host team, who they played in two 18-minute halves to emerge victorious as the first place winners in the two final tournament games.

Trinity Church ruled the court after eliminating the Opa-locka team with scores of  40 – 35 and  53 – 36, in the 16-and-under and 14-and-under age categories, respectively. 

The basketball teams were comprised of community youth who practice throughout the year to prepare for the anticipated tournament.

“All these athletes are winners,” Kelley remarked. “The Basketball Classic is a great way to encourage our youth to engage in productive activity during the holiday break!”

He clarified that the challenge is for everyone who qualifies, making note of 14-year-old Vernisha Jenkins who made the starting lineup for the city of Opa-locka team.

“She can outplay some of the best guys on the team and, according to her father Coach Curtis ‘Blow’ Jenkins, she is already being observed by Hialeah-Miami Lakes, as well as other schools.” 

Park Director Charles “Ben Gay” Brown commended the discipline the tournament provides. “While taking a break from the television and video games, our kids learn sportsmanship and attitude control during these games,” he said. “Participating in local park programs also leaves less time for mischievousness and it is a clean, healthy way of competing through physical activity.”

Several parents expressed appreciation for the opportunity to see their children’s talent on court. One inquired about the possibility of the Parks and Recreation Department including an adult division in the Basketball Challenge for next year’s games. “We’d like to shoot a few hoops too in this new gym, besides, I still ‘got game,’” he said, laughing. Brown said he would explore the possibility while informing him that the three Opa-locka park facilities are now open year-round during park hours for Opa-locka residents of all ages to enjoy. 

Rather than sore losers in the classic, there was determination to “settle the score” next December, and compliments to the opponents from the winning team members such as “They had real B-Ball skills!” Through the traditional after-game “trash-talking,” one player confidently bellowed, “Can’t wait to win again next year,” in anticipation of the 2013 Basketball Classic.