For Wayne Baloney and A.M. Charles, providing an opportunity for young men to play a sport that they love was an easy endeavor. As members of the First Baptist Church of Paradis, these two men, thirteen years ago, made an idea come alive as they established their Annual Christian Basketball Tournament.
"Good clean Christian fun is what our communities are in need of," said A. M. Charles. "We start with a fellowship banquet the Friday before the tournament and start early Saturday with the games."
The Baptist Church hosted their tournament on Saturday, Aug. 5 at J. B. Martin. "This year our speakers included Dr. Rodney Lafon and Reverend Ronald Gullage," said Charles. "They both shared words of encouragement and insight into the challenges young men face on a day to day basis." The churches that participated this year in the tournament were Antioch, First Baptist, Mt. Zion of Ama, Second St. John, Fifth African, True Vine, Mt Airy and Mt. Zion of Boutte.
"Each year we seek to get better not bigger,” reflected Wayne Baloney. "We want to keep the tournament small. Our bigger objective is to bring these young men closer to God. Team members are expected to be active members in their church."
These teams played well organized games filled with hard competition. They challenged each others game while keeping it clean on the court. Players could be seen throughout the games even at their most intense moments with super attitudes. The fight to play for third place between Fifth African and Mt. Zion of Boutte was decided in overtime with Fifth African winning. However, Antioch won third place in the final game.
Many sponsors allowed the tournament to be successful. Keith Davis, State Farm Insurance Agent and E.C. Colley Warehouse Corporation are major contributors. As well First American Bank, First National Bank, Parish President Albert Laque, HFA, Get Go Computers, Majorias, True Value, The Screen Scene, Allen Ace Hardware, Today's Car Care, Billy Bryant Auto Repair, For Heaven's Sake, The Beauty Shop, Pierre's Barber and Beauty Salon, Barbe Dairy and Gordon "Mike" Brown of Edward Jones assisted in many ways with various contributions.
Prizes such as book bags, ice chest and shirts were given to on lookers. Victoria Darsey and Tracy White were the lucky winners of $50 saving bonds. The tournament was a great success and allowed the basketball talents of many young men to be demonstrated and displayed. The First Baptist Church of Paradis looks forward to next year building an even better tournament with more quality playing.