Bonding through basketball: Annual tournament held Jan. 22-24 in Columbia

By Allison Trussell

COLUMBIA—More than 350 youth from around the state came to Columbia Jan. 22-24 for the South Carolina United Methodist Basketball Tournament.

Three champions were crowned, and the prestigious Mitch Milford Trophy went to a church this year instead of one team.

The Junior Boys, Senior Girls and two Senior Boys teams from Lyttleton Street UMC, Camden, received the Mitch Milford Trophy, given for the best spirit of sportsmanship. While the tournament strives “to promote Christian fellowship amongst youth across our conference and supply outreach opportunities for local churches,” the Milford Award is the award held in highest regard by players and coaches alike. The award was given during the Sunday morning worship service held at Epworth Children’s Home.

“All the teams from Lyttleton Street, exhibited the characteristics the award represents,” said Chris Lynch, one of the tournament organizers.

The Lyttleton Street teams included the following players: Margaret Lackey, Ava Neal, Katie White, Iris Kaputa, Caroline Best, Caroline Rowell, Chloe Horton, Sarah Hanson, Sanders Inabinet, Will Abbott, Mikael Nelson, Will Farmer, Christian Flick, Nick Ranges, Campbell Jordan, John Long, Gus Allen, Devin Beckley, K. P. Cassidy, Parker Rankin, Matthew Cassidy, Dalton Reeves, Sawyer Reeves, Wilson Pope, Patrick Lindsay, Robert Lee, Sam Ferguson, Cauthen Best, Drew Hanson, Matthew Farmer, Robert Inabinet, Layton Smith, John Copley, Ben Battiata, Patrick Daniels and Sam White.

None of the players in the tournament play for a school team, but competition is always fierce during pool play and during the championship games. But it’s more than competition, say the participants.

“The basketball tournament is all about connecting to other Christians and youth in a fun-loving spirit! It creates a community among the youth and youth ministers. When you go to the tournament and discover that you know and love many of these people that is unity in Jesus's church!” said Rebecca Phifer, high school youth director for Buncombe Street UMC, Greenville.

All the champions were crowned Sunday in the gym of Dreher High School.

In the Junior Boys division, Shandon UMC, Columbia, defeated Epworth 46-33.

The Buncombe Street UMC Senior Girls defeated the Simpsonville UMC, Simpsonville, Senior Girls 42-21.

The Senior Boys championship was won by Grace UMC, North Augusta, who defeated the Lyttleton Street UMC Team 1 42-39.

Not enough Junior Girls teams signed up to participate, so a junior girls champion was not named.

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