Poarch Tribe prepares to tip off

Published 4:57 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
While March may hold memories of big shots and big losses in March Madness bracket pools, for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, it holds an entirely different connection.
A group of boys, ages 13-17, began practicing Monday night for a basketball tournament to be held at the end of this month.
Mitchell Hughes, Activities Director for the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation, said that the Native American Youth Organization (NAYO) holds tournaments in several sports each year.
"This year the basketball tournament will be in Choctaw, Miss.," Hughes said. "Tribal teams are coming from all over. There will be a team from Seminole, Fla., Choctaw N.C., two teams from Minnesota, a team from New York, and several others. It will be held during Easter Break, March 25-26."
Rodney Exum, who has coached the basketball teams for the NAYO tournaments for about 10 years, said this team would be very quick.
"We're younger, we're not experienced, but we've got a lot of speed," Exum said. "Defense is going to be the main issue we work on. We're very undersized, so we have to rely on quickness on defense."
Despite the team's youth, Exum said he sees potential in them.
"They have a lot of heart," Exum said. "It's going to take a lot of practice, but they're giving 110 percent every practice and that means a lot. The potential is there."
Exum mentioned several players whom he felt the team would rely on.
"Aaron Gregson, Josh Turner, and Matthew McGhee are three of our best players," Exum said. "Everyone else is young, but Robert Howard and Jacob McGhee are two young ones that I think can play for us."
Hughes said that things looked good for the Poarch Creek basketball team.
"We've got a lot of older guys that look pretty good," Hughes said on Monday. "We haven't practiced yet, but we will practice tonight (Monday). I'm looking forward to seeing our younger guys get a shot."
Exum said the team would also have to hold a fundraiser to assist in travel expenses to the tournament.
"The tournament is Easter weekend," Exum said. "It'll start on the 25, but we're going to have to head up there on March 24. We will have to have a fundraiser to be able to do that."
In addition to competition with other tribes from across the country, the Poarch Creeks offer recreation opportunities to the entire City of Atmore, including a basketball league, which is set to start Tuesday.
"We offer two teams in age groups of four-to-seven years old, eight-to-10 years old, and 11-14 years old," Hughes said. "We have about 74 kids signed up right now."
Hughes said the Poarch Creek Indians strive to reach out to the community.
"This isn't just for the reservation," Hughes said. "It's for the community. We have nine tribal kids in this league and the rest are from the area. Some things are just for the tribe, but most of the recreation things we do are for everyone in the community."

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