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Houston sticking with hoops

NATCHEZ — Natchez native Jeremy Houston is a 23-year-old United States Marine, stationed in Hawaii.

While serving his country as a Sergeant, Houston also finds time to get back to the game he has always loved.

“I’ve always (played basketball), ever since I was little, and I would play at Concord (Avenue) Park and the youth center. That was all I was exposed to,” Houston said.

Now Houston is a member of the Marine Corps Base Hawaii basketball team, who competed in the West Coast Regional Basketball Championship from March 13-18. The tournament was hosted by Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Calif.

“Once I went in the military and knew they had basketball, and I saw how much of a competitive nature there was with it, I just loved it,” Houston said.

The talent level is comparable to players that play at a Division 2 college level, Houston said.

Houston was a standout player at Natchez High School from 2002-2006. He was an All-State honorable mention in 2006 by the Clarion-Ledger, he said. He was also All-metro first team in 2005 and second team in 2006, he said.

Houston played one year of college ball at Northeast Mississippi Community College before enlisting in the Marines.

“I joined the Marines to do something different in life, to see the world, to meet new people, and defend the United States of America,” Houston said.

But basketball has always been a part of his life. Houston played in the Far East Regional Tournament in Japan, in 2009 and has played in the West Coast Tournament the past two years.

“Basketball is very important, it brings out the real character in a person,” Houston said.

“It helps a lot to keep us in shape physically and also mentally. Also, it helps with camaraderie and just to get out and compete,” Houston said.

The West Coast Regional Tournament consists of five round-robin games and then an elimination tournament, Houston said.

The former Natchez star led his team to their best ever finish in this year’s tournament.

“We made it to the semi-finals of the tournament,” Houston said.

“(Base Hawaii) has never really (done well in the tournament), this is the highest they’ve ever been in the tournament. They’ve always finished in the lower part of the tournament, losing in the first round.”

Houston could not remember his individual stats, but said he played well and knew he averaged double-figure points for the tournament.

The host team, Base Camp Pendleton ended up winning the tournament for the third straight year.

After the tournament, twelve players were selected for the All-Marine team, which will go on to play teams from other branches of the military.

Houston was not selected for the team this year.

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