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Miss-Lou Youth Basketball teams square off in friendly contest

The Delta Bank team’s Samuel Merriett, left, goes after a loose ball against the Natchez Heating and Cooling team’s Gabe Bourke, center, and Jake Spears, right, during a game Tuesday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

The Delta Bank team’s Samuel Merriett, left, goes after a loose ball against the Natchez Heating and Cooling team’s Gabe Bourke, center, and Jake Spears, right, during a game Tuesday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — When Natchez Heating and Cooling met Delta Bank at the Vidalia Upper Elementary Tuesday night, points were few and far between. That’s not what mattered in the Miss-Lou Youth Basketball 10-and-under exhibition, though, as opposing coaches would later attest.

Instruction from the sidelines was nonstop as both teams committed just about every violation in the rulebook, leading to a scoreless first quarter. But after an in-bound pass underneath the basket, Natchez Heating and Cooling got the first bucket of the game when Jake Spears nailed an 18-foot jumper from the top of the key. The very next possession he swished his next shot to give his team a 4-0 lead that would hold until the half. Kelly Spears, assistant coach and father of Jake, said his son practices that shot on a regular basis.

“He does that on his own,” Spears said. “But coaching is all about the boys, trying to make ‘em into men. It’s why we do it.”

In the second half, Delta Bank made it interesting when Samuel Merriett drove through the lane and drew an and-one opportunity.

“That’s my brother!” Someone shouted from the bleachers.

He missed the free throw that followed but his layup conversion made the game 4-2.

The second half brought more and more teaching opportunities, especially for Delta Bank head coach Don Washington, who actually stepped up at the last minute to fill a head coaching void for the age group.

“I was talked into it,” Washington said. “You tell them to dribble, and then they’ll do something else. It’s fun though. They’re learning.”

The teaching opportunities continued on the floor when Charles “Chick” Matthews stopped the game to explain to a Delta Bank player why he blew the whistle and gave the ball to the other team.

“Now, what did you do wrong?” Matthews asked the young ball player. “You’re foot was on the line when you passed the ball in. You have to pay attention. Blue ball.”

Natchez Heating and Cooling won the game 7-2, but no score could symbolize the amount of valuable lessons learned by all who participated.