With the sports pages littered with bad news these days and children looking up to pro athletes more concerned with 'bling' and 'bank' and unchecked silliness the Winnipeg Free Press Community Classic basketball tournament offered up a dose of good sport in a fun and positive environment.
"This is one of six Wesmen Classic events that we put on and through our partnership with the Free Press we think is a valuable event for the university, the kids and Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association," said Doran Reid, acting athletic director at the University of Winnipeg, host of the Community Classic. "It's a chance to make the kids feel like stars for a couple of days. From playing at the big gym here at the Duckworth Centre to the coverage in the paper to the public address for the finals to the webcast to the photos parents can buy of their kids. It's a great couple of days."
The Community Classic is a four-day tournament made up of community club teams from the WMBA involving kids aged 11 to 14 and Emily Janzen said it was a great way to spend the week.
"It was so fun. Fun to play with my friends and against my friends," said the 12-year-old Janzen, named tournament MVP for her North Kildonan team. "Playing in this gym, it makes you feel special. I'm so excited. I'm going to school to tell all my friends about it."
Reid says the tourney pays long-term dividends to basketball in the province.
"It makes kids realize basketball can be a big deal. Kids quit sports too early and this is a way to keep them involved," said Reid. "Especially the females. They tend to leave sports and if they can stay a little longer they may stay for a long time. And having the kids play longer is good for basketball in Manitoba. If the sport improves at the grassroots level, then it can improve at the varsity level and the national team level."
North Kildonan's Janessa Stafeckis is drawn to basketball for a number of reasons.
"It's exciting, it's challenging and lots of fun," said Stafeckis, 12. "Just the thrill of playing here. It's been so much fun. It's all good."
Stafeckis says she plans to visit the Duckworth again.
"I'm not going to quit basketball. I want to play for a long time. I like playing on a team and some day I'm going to play here as a university player," said Stafeckis.
11-12 girls championship
North Kildonan 16 East St. Paul 12
North Kildonan: Tarina Ready and Jasmine Bhullar 4 each; Emily Janzen, Julia Schroeder, Haley Thomas 2 each; Shehnaaz Brar and Sydney MacFarlene 1 each. East St. Paul: Carmen Loewen 4; Kyra Sivertson; 3, Sydney Loewen and Haley Bujan 2 each; Tianna Mighty 1. Tournament MVPs: Emily Janzen - North Kildonan; Tianna Mighty - East St. Paul.
11-12 girls third-place game
Roblin Park 33 Whyte Ridge 22
Roblin Park: Lexis Johannason 7; Brittney Nygaard and Megan Riediger 6 each:, Courtney Bosclair and Brooke Proutt 4 each; Karly Lane, Katie Duff, Breanne Riediger 2 each. Whyte Ridge: Shelby Olson 9; Kennedy Kuntz and Janessa Chudrick 4 each; Danielle Tremblay 3; Stacey Urban 2.
12 boys championship
Tyndall Park 59 Greendell 46
Tyndall Park: Ketan Bansal 20; Daniel Tuazon 15; Jordan Murdock 12; David Bazan and Jeremy Skuboulos 4 each; Jasdeep Muhar and Gurneet Brar 2 each. Greendell: Jesse Davidson 17; Khalid Ali 15; Jeremy Magnifico 4; Mathew Kobewka, Kevin Baille, Ian Schaefer, Jeremy Baker, Zach Antonio 2 each. Tournament MVPs: Ketan Bansal -- Tyndall Park; Khalid Ali -- Greendell.
12 boys third-place game
Dakota 39 Garden City 35
Dakota: Ralph Hu 11; Thor Sigmar 10; David Finnbogason 6; Zenon Hapychuk, Austin McWhitter, Garrett Nieman 3 each, Connor Hassar 2; Ty Edmonds Garden City: Drew Dobinsky 8; Justin Kasper 7; Jerrod Algantara 6; Matthew Melo 5; Rajin Dhaliwal 4; Dylan Lemay 3; Jaskaran Gill 2.
13-14 girls championship
Roblin Park 37 Lindenwoods 29
Roblin Park: Kerrilynn MacLennan 10; Desiree Bedard 7; Meagan Masterton and Kaylee Hondubara 4 each; Erica Nixon and Anna Ceklic 3 each; Brenna Talmage and Colleen Moyer 2 each. Lindenwoods: Jordyn Stewart 10; Brooke Turnbull 7; Caitlin Menzies 5; Christine Aherns, Taylor Leonzio,Morgan Piosecki 2 each; Katelyn Knight 1; Tournament MVPs: Kerrilynn Maclennan -- Roblin Park; Caitlin Menzies -- Lindenwoods
13-14 girls third-place game
Selkirk 41 Greendell 14
Selkirk: Chelsea Ganske and Amanda Goodbrandson 10 each; Sam Fedorchuk and Malory Minerik 6 each; Naykia Massey 4; Kit Muir 3; Kesslyn Lycan 2; Greendell: Kenzie Raddysh 8; Jeannet Yee, Tasha Hildebrand, Sona Morrissette 2.
13 boys championship
Oxford Heights No. 2, 36 Norberry/Glenlee 33
Oxford Heights No. 2: Adam DeJouckheere 12; Nik Krasnesky and Aaron Lange 6 each; Ryan Krasnowski 4; Corey Clayton, Quinn Schipper, Darin Demchuk, Aaron Breeze 2 each; Norberry/Glenlee; Coe Peersman 11; Josh Unrau 6; Michael Davis 5; Trey McEachern 4; Jeff Williams, Adam Kuharski, Ben Gaudes 2 each. Tournament MVP: Nik Krasnesky -- Oxford Heights No. 2.