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Kids outdid the grownups at Class 2-A West hoops regional

Feb 29, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer

Huge crowds, intense competition, new challengers and venerable programs all delighted the fans at last weekend' s Class 2-A West regional basketball tournament in Riverton.

The Wind River boys and Lovell girls take the top seed into this week's state tournament in Casper but neither had a cakewalk at the regional. This was the most competitive tournament since the inception of the regional concept. Only two games could be considered blowouts, with most coming down to the wire.

What wasn't so spectacular was the continued decline in adult decorum at the tournament. During the course of the 2011-12 basketball season it became commonplace around the gyms of Fremont County to see officials stop ballgames and instruct school administrators or even law enforcement officers to escort angry parents from the stands after their behavior hit new lows.

Somewhere along the way the importance of sport as learning tool was lost among the egos and vicarious delusions of the adults in the stands -- and even on the sidelines.

Teams and their supporters are often an indication of the attitude of the head coach.

A constant litany of complaint exuded from the bench does nothing but cheapen the game and annoy officials. Non-stop complaining eliminates any chance of correcting a legitimate problem. If you complain from the opening tip off to the final buzzer, then you just become background noise. It's not intimidating anyone. It is just sad.

The behavior is embarrassing for the school and community but it is most disturbing when it extends to the players on the floor. Still, the play of the kids usually transcends the boorish behavior of the grown-ups. Thankfully, our coaches in Fremont County don't practice this behavior. They become animated, challenge a few calls and coerce their players, but they rarely cross the line.

You won't find more focused coach than Wyoming Indian's Aleta Moss. In spite of having the youngest team in the tournament, the Lady Chiefs are back at state.

Chiefs Coach Craig Ferris was so intent during a timeout in the Lovell semi-final game that he barely noticed as junior Alvin Spoonhunter tossed a towel toward the bench that Landed on top of the coach's head. Resembling King Tut with the towel drooping across his head, Ferris kept diagramming a play on is dry-erase board and didn't seem to notice the towel until his team returned to the floor.

Now that's concentration.

There were some firsts in officiating this weekend. Never before on the boys' side had two female officials worked a tournament game at the same time. Riverton's Leann Neville officiated a lot of games this weekend and she worked twice with Sheridan's Lisa Mohatt. Mohatt was a standout player for Casper Natrona in the late 1980s, then at Casper College and Gonzaga University. Many may remember her as Lisa Nicholls, star player of the Fillies two decades ago. Neville's daughter, Lindy, was an all-state player at Cody High School who later starred at Sheridan College.

Not all interaction with officials is negative. Riverton police officer Charlie Marshall approached Eric Heiser as Heiser officiated a game Friday afternoon. Marshall pulled out his cell phone, grinned as he handed it to Heiser and said, "Looks like you missed about a dozen calls."

Tournaments are about fun, competition, and the best efforts our young people can exhibit. Enjoying the game without being a detraction to it is the responsibility of the adults in attendance. Step in if you see someone cross the line.