By DeVion Gardley
Saturday, Dec. 28 marked one of the most amazing and unique basketball tournaments in Chicago: the “Austin Dream Makers, 2013 Holiday Tournament.”
Six Austin churches went head to head in a day-long tournament filled with success, excitement as well as defeat.
The participating churches make up the largest faith-based youth mentoring program in the city. Each game was played with teams comprised of mentors and mentees, enduring two, 20-minute halves. After the first round, the team with the highest points scored was given a bye to go directly to the finals.
Playing the first game of the tournament were Great True Vine, led by Pastor John Collins, versus Original Providence, led by Pastor Cleophus Lee. Great True Vine leads the first half with 22 points, to Original Providence’s 13.
During the second half, Original Providence made an incredible comeback and tied the game at 31, with 3 minutes left to play. Both teams, playing excellent defense, played a 15-minute overtime.
Eventually, Great True Vine won 35-31; Great True Vine advanced to the second round.
New Kingdom, led by Pastor Robbie Wilkerson, faced off against Rising Sun Baptist, led by Pastor Matthew Miller in the second game of the tournament.
This was the highest scoring game of the tournament, with both teams putting up over 40 points. At halftime, New Kingdom was winning 41-29. During the second half, Rising Sun Baptist Church made an astonishing comeback, winning the game with a final score 70-65. Rising Sun earned the bye.
The last and final game of the first round was by far the most anticipated. A standing-room only crowd saw Mars Hill Baptist Church, led by Pastor E. Stowers Jr., take on Greater Saint John, led by Pastor Ira Acree.
Mars Hill ended the first half with 3-point lead over Greater Saint John, 17-14. This was the most exciting game in the tournament, hands down. There were techs, as well as fouls, left and right. A very clutch game indeed it was.
Greater Saint John won, with the final score being 37-34. Greater Saint John advanced to the second round, where they faced Great True Vine.
Rising Sun went on to win the tournament after a long day of basketball. More than 450 people came out to support the Austin community churches.
The tournament was a success raising nearly $1,000 for the youth in the Austin Dream Makers program.