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Hoops with impact

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Winners of the Veterans Division (35-and-older) at Saturday’s Dribble Over Drugs tournament in Roberts Park was the Old Man Skills team of Johnny Johnson, Darrell Johnson, Jerame Dees and Mike Tout.
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The Parrott Fly Guys from St. Luke’s in Indianapolis were the Boys Division champions at Saturday’s Dribble Over Drugs event at Roberts Park in Connersville. The four members of the team were Michael Irk, Owen Wood, Simon Gramling and Jaiden Malichi.
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FCN Bank poses with their trophies after winning the Women’s Division of the Dribble Over Drugs tournament, Saturday at Roberts Park. Playing for FCN was the foursome of Shauna Watson, Kaley Caudill, Beth Moormanand Megan Caudill.
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Members of theDip and Dazzle team show off their championship hardware at the Dribble Over Drugs event at Roberts Park in Connersville on Saturday.Team members included Josh Falls, Tyrae Davis, Randy Watkins and Tanner Todd.
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Amateur Hour’s Ty Miller, left, tries to block a shot from Donovan Foreman, represeting Fayette County Prosecutor Bette Jo Jones, at the Dribble Over Drugs tournament, Saturday at Roberts Park.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

More than 130 basketball players from the surrounding area attempted to send a strong message with their game, Saturday at Roberts Park.

The message behind the game, however, was even stronger.

The 2nd Annual Dribble Over Drugs event brought 39 teams, representing four different divisions, to the park.

Event coordinator Joey Laughlin said that the numbers, both on the court and attending as fans was a welcome increase.

“This was much bigger than it was last year,” he said. “We had players from all over, as well as several Connersville Spartan alumni, so this was a great success.”

Each team was limited to only four players on a roster, and was permitted to have three on the court at a time. Baskets were worth one point, unless scored from beyond the 3-point line. Those field goals were worth two points.

The first team to 15 points (must win by two) was deemed the winner in each game, and each division was set up in a double-elimination format.

The four divisions at the event were Boys, Adult Men, Women and Veteran (35-and-older). The Adult Men’s division was the most crowded, as 21 teams registered to vie for that title.

In the end, Dip and Dazzle won the division, Tyrae Davis, Josh Falls, Tanner Todd and Randy Watkins filling out that team’s roster.

Davis will be a freshman at IU East next season, joining Connersville High School graduate Garrett Silcott, who has signed to play for the Red Wolves as well.

The Boys division title was competed for by seven teams.

Parrott Fly Guys, a foursome of middle-schoolers from St. Luke, Indianapolis won that division. Members of that unit included Simon Gramling, Michael Irk, Jaiden Malichi and Owen Wood.

The team beat 2Hype and the team representing Fayette County Prosecutor Bette Jo Jones, on the way to the title. 

Irk, Malichi and Wood will all attend Indianapolis Cathedral next year, while Gramling will take his talent to Indianapolis Chatard.

The Women’s division winner was FCN Bank, captained by Megan Caudill. Joining her in the winner’s circle in the end were teammates Kaley Caudill, Beth Moorman and Shauna Watson.

FCN defeated Toon Squad, Phillips and Dtak in its three games. There were six teams in the division.

Megan Caudill is the Connersville High School junior varsity girls coach.

In the Veteran’s division, Old Man Skills beat Laughlin for Sherriff and Templeton twice to claim the five-team crown. Members of the team from Richmond were Johnny Johnson, Darrell Johnson, Jerame Dees and Mike Tout.

While dribbling, shooting and blocking might have been the main focus, it was far from the only attraction on the day. 

Nor was it the primary point.

“We had a lot of praise and worship going on, and had several people speak as the games were going on,” Laughlin said. “Several of the speakers were people who had overcome addiction.

“There was so many other parts to this, beyond basketball.”

Indeed.

There were several food vendors on hand, and there was a bounce-house structure, run by the Connersville Jaycees. In all, the tournament felt much more like the event that it was, and attracted hundreds to the park throughout the morning and early afternoon.

By day’s end, Dribbling Over Drugs had raised approximately $6,000, and some of that money was quickly put to use.

“We donated $500 checks to Brianna’s Hope, One Sent Ministries, Fayette County Foundation, and to the Connersville Parks Department,” Laughlin said. “We’re going to have a meeting and figure out what we want to do with the rest of the money.”

The Fayette County Sheriff said that plans are already in the works for the event next season.

“One thing we plan to do next year is have an official on all four courts,” Laughlin said. “This year, we had only three courts covered.”

Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.

But as long as lives continue to be touched, he added that Dribble Over Drugs will always be a success.

“I had one kid approach me at the event, someone I had arrested previously,” he said. “He had turned things around so much, that I didn’t even recognize him.

“That’s what this is all about.”