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March 16, 2012

Marion County 4-H Basketball Tournament begins Friday

Melcher-Dallas — Sportsmanship, teamwork and friendship will be the themes of the weekend, as approximately 175 Marion County 4-H'ers take part in the organization's annual basketball tournament. 

Each 4-H Club in Marion County was given the opportunity to form a team, in the junior and senior divisions of the tournament. The 5-on-5 contests will be refereed by Central College students and will be held in the Melcher-Dallas High School gymnasium, beginning at 5 p.m., on Friday, March 23. The contest continues through Saturday morning. 

The tournament dates back to 1941. In 1962, the organization added a prize for sportsmanship, a tradition that continues. Mindy Kephart, County Youth Coordinator for Marion County Extension, said choosing just one team for the sportsmanship prize is difficult. 

"All of them have done a really good job," Kephart said. 

The tournament has expanded this year to include a Clover Kids game for the youngest 4-H'ers, and an alumni/volunteer game. The alumni game will be held due to popular demand. 

Games played by senior members will include eight-minute halves, while juniors will play six-minute rounds. Rules for these contests will be more lenient, as the players are young children. 

Coaches for the teams can be volunteers or even members of the club. Some junior teams are coached by seniors. In one instance, a junior 4-H member will coach a senior team. 

Admission will be charged each day. Adults are $2 and students (K-12) are $1. This is to provide funds to pay the referees and fund other activities. Marion County Council members will also operate a concession stand during the games. 

Kephart, a former 4-H'er herself, said this event is good for the children. They have fun, become better sportsmen and make new friends.

"I did have a really good time," Kephart said. 

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