Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 1, 1998

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / April 1, 1998

VACHERIE – The West Bank of St. James Parish has a tradition of world-class biddy basketball programs.

In 1992, its 10-year-old team went to Nationals in Sarasota, Fla. Thefollowing year, the 10-year-olds again went to Nationals, this time in Kenner.

In 1995, it was the 12-year-olds turn, going to the National tournament in Wichita, Kansas. And in 1996, the 10-year-olds made a return trip toNationals in Lafayette. A pretty impressive record for a program that hasbeen around for less than a decade.

That tradition continues this year as the 12-year-old St. James West All-Stars travel to the International Biddy Basketball tournament in Wichita April 3-9. And what makes the trip even more special is that the All-Stars made it as a team, with no one true star on offense.

“The team plays better together,” St. James West coach Owen Mumphreysaid. “The whole team gets together and plays as a unit.”Mumphrey said the team plays a controlled fast-break type of offense mixed in with a triangle offense modeled after the Chicago Bulls.

Mumphrey also stresses a strong defense.

The All-Stars placed first at the Morgan City tournament, making them a team to watch. But Mumphrey said the turning point came againstJefferson Parish West in the regionals. Jefferson Parish won the game butSt. James West had a shot of winning at the end.”That was when the guys knew they had a shot at nationals,” Mumphrey said.

The All-Stars qualified for the national tournament after placing fourth at both district and regionals. The top four teams at each move up to the nexttournament.

The team was selected from the four teams in the West Bank Biddy Basketball program. The All-Stars play in AA, the higher of the two levelsin Biddy Basketball, and compete with teams that have larger populations to choose from.

Mumphrey said he is proud of the players because they have accomplished more than they should be expected to playing against teams that have a larger area to choose players from.

“These are some of the best kids I have had,” Mumphrey, who has been coaching in the program since its inception, said. “They do a good job oflistening and picking up things. They want to learn and try to learn. It is apretty good team.”

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