Sixty-four teams, involving approximately 600 kids, are in action for the Hiawatha Youth Basketball League this winter.

The league involves teams from second through sixth grades and games are played at the Hiawatha High School and Hiawatha Middle School, along with the National Guard Armory every Saturday through January and most of February.

Organizer Jodi Twombly said this is the eighth year for the league, which brings in teams from 13 different towns in Brown, Nemaha, Jackson, Doniphan and Richardson, Neb., counties. With parents, grandparents and friends tagging along to watch their special player, this brings a lot of activity and people to Hiawatha every Saturday for two months.

Twombly said that current co-organizers are Kylee Reschke and Jeff Moore, but there have been others along the way, including Dr. Pete Rosa’ — one of the founders of the league.

Organizing the league is quite a task, with 32 games played every Saturday on four different courts. Twombly said she usually schedules around 10 to 12 referees, including a couple of high school players. In addition, there are several community groups and school groups who do concessions each week as fundraisers. The Hiawatha coaches all serve as gym monitors each week.

There is a small gate fee — $2 per adults, and those, along with leftover team fees, are donated every year.

“Last year we donated $11,500 to USD 415-Hiawatha to purchase the new middle school scoreboards and remodel the training room at the high school,” she said.

“It is a great opportunity for local youth to enjoy the game of basketball, stay physically active, and learn the importance of teamwork,” she said. “We start the league at 2nd grade so they can start learning the rules of the game, basic ball handling skills, and proper shooting technique at a younger age. We play the younger kids on 8.5 foot goals to help with teaching those skills.”

The league begins the first Saturday of January and continues through most of February, with 2nd and 3rd grade tournaments set for Feb. 15, and our 4th, 5th, and 6th grade tournaments will be Feb. 22.

For more photos of some recent games, check out today’s Page 12.

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