Summer league wraps up
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – With a flurry of 3-pointers, a few highlight-reel dunks and some smothering defense, the Troup basketball team put the wraps on the Summer Basketball Shootout with a dominant performance.
For 10 Saturdays during the spring and summer, dozens of players get together at the Griggs Recreation Center to hoop it up.
The players are divided into four teams, Troup, LaGrange, Callaway and Veterans.
After a round-robin series of games, each Saturday ends with a four-team tournament.
Following the semifinal games, the two winners meet in the championship game.
On Saturday afternoon, it was Troup and Callaway getting together to play for the last championship of the summer.
The day belonged to Troup, which won its fourth championship of the season, matching Veterans for the most titles.
The founder of the league is Sam Cotton, and he said the players make Saturdays a lot of fun.
“These kids make what we do easy,” Cotton said. “Ninety percent of them come in and here and do what we ask them do. They all know what to do.”
This year, league play has expanded to Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Cotton said that has proven popular as well.
“That’s a spin-off of what I’ve been doing during the summer,” Cotton said. “It’s grown. Sometimes I’ll have 50 or 60 kids in here.”
Many of the league participants are in high school, but there are also plenty of players who have left those days behind.
One of the league players is Jarrius Farrow, who was a standout player for the Troup Tigers a few years ago.
Farrow, who is attending Salem International University, not only played in Cotton’s league, but he also took part in an adults-only league that that took place at the Griggs Recreation Center.
Farrow said he enjoys being a part of both leagues.
“We’ve been doing (the shootout) for a couple of summers,” Farrow said. “And we just got done with adult summer league, and we won that whole thing. That was super fun.”
During the Summer Basketball Shootout, each team plays nine, six-minute round-robin games.
During the round-robin games, everyone plays, and it’s more of a relaxed atmosphere.
When it’s time for the semifinals and finals, though, it’s all business.
“You have to start playing then, and doing what you’ve got to do to get the win,” Farrow said.
Another participant in the league is Nigel Maddox, and he and a group of friends are in the Griggs Center every Saturday.
Maddox said he and his friends have a motto they apply to all walks of life that’s all about putting God first.
It’s G1, GB, which stands for God first, God bless.
“It’s just a little saying, you keep God first,” Maddox said. “It’s a blessing. It’s just something me and my brothers come together and say. I just want to get it out in LaGrange.”
Cotton used to offer a traditional youth camp during the summer, and in 2012 he decided to start the shootout.
“I started it out as a camp, and we converted it to this,” Cotton said.
Cotton said he’ll continue to offer the league play during the week until high-school basketball practice begins in November.
“I’ll do it until it’s about time to start high-school basketball,” Cotton said. “And when we finish high-school basketball, we’ll start it right back up. For the last two years, it’s been about one of the hottest things going.”