The Ballhawks and Bulls are two squads that are hitting the floor as part of the 10-12 age group of players at Finley gym.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain


Coach of multiple sports Jared Marquez was there in a dual coaching and refereeing role for both squads coming out on November 18.

“James McNeil asked me if I would be interested in helping run this youth program,” he said. “I love basketball. The original thought was to have this happen once football season was over but that’s still going on. I try to come out and help the kids grow with running plays. We’re just hoping to teach these guys and gals how to play basketball the right way.”

With parents pouring into the stands, players from the 10-12 age group Ballhawks and Bulls squads were practicing with coach Marquez as he switched off on both sides of the floor, shooting buckets and running half-court drills before the 5:30 game led by coach Kevin and coach Dave. Score was not a big factor in the game as parents and referees were focused on allowing the players to have fun together again.

Several county workers were in attendance to help set up various things for the games. Carlos Benavidez is a newer employee for the city complex and has been working with the city just over a month. He was there keeping score and setting things up for the players and fans.

“Seeing these kids out here is so much fun,” he said. “Seeing them tonight it makes me want to go out and play with them. I’m not a big basketball fan myself but seeing the passion that these kids have really makes me want to go out and hit the court. Hopefully, some of these players get to play in middle school and high school varsity and so on levels.”

While not keeping a strict score, the Ballhawks did come out with a sizeable lead. Players were making three-pointers, mid-range jumpers, and even a few Allen Iverson-inspired over-under reverses at the rim. It was a competitive matchup from beginning to end.

“This is bigtime for the youth,” Marquez said. “It gives the kids something to do and allows us in the community to help them mature in the right direction. All we expect is for these kids to come out and have fun, simple as that.”

The young ballers have several more games to go before the end of the year at Finley. December 23 marks the closeout of the season with the 10-12 age groups competing. The 4-6 and 7-9 players will finish their season the day before on December 22.