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Oldham County’s boys basketball team’s trip to a tournament in San Diego this past week marked a lot of firsts for the team.
Most of the players had never been to California. Most had never played basketball games with a shot clock. And some, junior guard Connor Hicks said, had never been on an airplane.
“That was interesting, to see people’s reactions when it took off and landed,” Hicks said. “(Senior forward) Austin Wills and (junior guard) Hayden Hawes both hadn’t flown before and they sat together, so they were going crazy.”
The Colonels were in San Diego at the Surf ‘N Slam San Diego Hoop Classic.
Every couple of years, OC coaches like the team to travel out-of-state to a Christmas tournament, coach Coy Zerhusen said. Two years ago the team went to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The Colonels raised funds for the trip by selling BBQ sandwiches at the Kentucky Derby, hosting an AAU tournament and doing a variety of other things. All trip expenses other than meals were covered by the funds the team raised.
“The basketball’s important, because it gives us the opportunity to work on some different things, some different competition,” Zerhusen said. “But it’s more off the court. It’s more of a bonding experience, and it’s more of a maturity experience too.
“For a lot of these kids it’s the first time they’ve ever been on an airplane, it’s the first time they’ve been on one of these trips on their own, spending nights in hotels. It’s their opportunity to show they can be mature and responsible and we can trust them in these situations, because if we go to the state tournament, we’re staying in hotels… It’s just growing up, in general.”
The Colonels (9-3) won their first game of the tournament, 55-48, Friday against Woodcreek, a team from the Sacramento, Calif., area. Zerhusen called the win one of OC’s best of the year.
Saturday the Colonels lost to Potomac, Va., a team from the Washington D.C. area, 59-52.
OC played a game Monday against Ransom Everglades (Fla.) that ended after the Era’s press deadline. Ransom Everglades, a team from Miami, featured 6-foot-10 Trey Mourning, the son of seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning.
“It’s been a good opportunity to go against some good teams and players,” Zerhusen said.
OC played those games with a 35-second shot clock, something it won’t see during games in Kentucky.
Zerhusen said there was a little bit of adjustment to the shot clock, but that it wasn’t too big a factor.
During their time off the court, the Colonels have done some sightseeing in the area. Players and coaches explored downtown areas, went to the beach, toured the USS Midway in the San Diego Naval Yard and took a trip north to spend a day Disneyland.
That’s provided the Colonels’ plenty of opportunity for off-court bonding, which Hicks said may be the best benefit of the trip.
“It’s brought a lot of us together closer as individuals and as a team,” Hicks said. “We’ve had a lot of free time to learn about each other a little bit more.
“We’ve gotten to know each other not just on the court, but off the court, too. It’s definitely been good.”
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