Basketball – high school

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First Day of Summer And The Kid Is Playing Hoops

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

120115-BobBasketball.45web Senior or masters basketball has become a popular sport for kids at heart, from baby boomers to those well into their 70s and 80s.

YUCAIPA – I remember as a kid rarely touching a basketball in June. Summers on a Minnesota farm were spent baling hay and cultivating about 220 acres of corn and soybeans from sun up to sun down.

For hardworking farm boys, precious free time for sports was spent in a cow pasture, or freshly baled hay field playing baseball or fast-pitch softball.

Basketball? Not even a thought. It’s a winter sport and in June there’s no snow on the ground.

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Humbling Day at the California Senior Games Championships

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

PASADENA, Calif. – Sometimes when success comes our way in sports, the ego will bloat with pride and proclaim, “Iook how good I am!”

Sunday, June 5, my senior (age 65-69) basketball team competed in the California Senior Games in Pasadena. The tournament would decide which teams in age divisions from 50 to 80-over would win state championships, and also qualify for the 2017 National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

I thought my team the Huntington Beach Surf Riders had a good shot at taking our division. We had won a tournament in San Diego and finished second in another. So I was feeling confident when we walked into the Pasadena City College gymnasium Sunday morning.

That confidence all too soon took a dreadful beating. We went 0-4 and none of the games were close. We were like a mediocre high school team taking on good college teams.

But despite the disappointment, I learned another of life’s valuable lessons that only comes from experience: Beware when your ego starts boasting, “look how good I am!” It’s false praise. Because somewhere, sometime you will meet someone (or team) more talented, and inevitably learn that you aren’t nearly the hot shot you thought you were.

USA claims championships in FIMBA Pan Am Games in Costa Rica

Friday, May 13th, 2016
The United States age 55-plus team celebrates winning the championship at the 2016 FIMBA Pan American Games in Costa Rica, April 23-30. Contributed photo / Jim Sweeney

The United States age 55-plus team celebrates winning the championship at the 2016 FIMBA Pan American Games in Costa Rica, April 23-30. Contributed photo / Jim Sweeney

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA – The USA 50-plus and 55-plus teams won their respective age divisions at the Federation of International Masters Basketball Association (FIMBA) Pan Am Games in San Jose, Costa Rica, April 23-30.

The Pan Am Games had 157 teams from 19 countries comprised of several age divisions from 45-plus to 75-plus, competing in the event.

“The goal is to send 15 Untied States teams to FIMBA’s next world championship in Italy in summer 2017,” said Jim Sweeney, Head of USA for FIMBA, whose role is to recruit teams for FIMBA’s international tournaments.

Sweeney adds that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has called FIMBA the best senior (ages 35-plus) sports federation in the world.

The United States age 50-plus team won the championship at the 2016 FIMBA Pan American Games in Costa Rica, April 23-30. Contributed photo / Jim Sweeney

The United States 50-plus team won the championship at the 2016 FIMBA Pan American Games in Costa Rica, April 23-30. Contributed photo / Jim Sweeney

To learn more about becoming involved, visit the FIMBA website , or contact Jim Sweeney for more information at 727-460-8932.

Immortalizing Kobe’s Greatness

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

YUCAIPA, Calif. – I have never been much of a Kobe Byant fan. Principally because he’s a Laker and I’ve hated the Lakers ever since they snuck out of Minneapolis in 1960 and had all that enviable success in LaLa Land, and all that ballyhooed “Showtime” with Magic and company.

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Old guy passes risky basketball two-for test

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

120115-BobBasketball.45web Bob Otto has been disparaged by many of his former basketball coaches as a poor defender, bad passer, weak rebounder, and so-so shooter. Yet at 67 he ignores their critique and the painful cries of his aging body, and continues to play hoops. The sport he has loved since boyhood.

DRAYSON CENTER, LOMA LINDA, Calif. – Foolish, risky, and what the hell was I thinking? All three assertions applied to my senior basketball venture on Monday at the Drayson Center. I decided a “two-for” was in order. Meaning playing basketball twice in a day – once in the morning from 11:30 – 1:15 and at night, 6 – 7:40.

17 year olds laugh at two-fors. And it’s no challenge even for 27 year olds. But at 67? At 40 years past my prime? It’s like opening the door for injury and saying, “come right in and wreck havoc with my old body.”

All my appendages and muscles (most of which are rapidly deteriorating) from the bottom of my feet to the top of my salt-and-pepper head were put at risk from the physically demanding two-for.

Especially my fragile left ankle. I had just been freed from 10 weeks of a spat of painful tendonitis. But on Sunday the ankle felt great; it turned and torqued and rotated like a frisky colt romping around a corral.

So Monday I decided a test was due. Why test the fragile ankle’s limits of basketball endurance? Why risk a setback from a two-for? See foolish and what-was-I-thinking in my opening line.

When I awoke Tuesday morning, I swung my legs out of bed and gingerly arose to my full 5-feet-9 stature (yes, little guys still play in the land of the giants). I took one step, then two. No pain, no creaking or crackling of the left ankle, or any other joints. What a glorious occasion! For I had just passed the two-for test.

Will I do it again? Once more, please refer to the first line.

For ‘Red’ Simmons, respect, love of the games keeps him going

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

012805-RedSimmons115web Richard ‘Red’ Simmons is an outstanding softball player, but his love for athletics throughout his life led him to become an official, a profession that has become an important part of his life. Photo By BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, CALIF – Richard ‘Red’ Simmons is the first to admit that he can’t cover the infield like he once did in his 25-, 35-, or even 45-year-old playing days. But the sure-fielding glove, whiplash swing of the bat and love for the sport remain as strong today as in his younger days.

Simmons loves softball, and he punches the playing clock without miss every Tuesday and Thursday in the Valley-Wide senior softball program. But the 75-year-old Simmons is also well traveled outside of the San Jacinto Valley as a member of the Top Gun Gold, a senior slowpitch All-Star team from San Diego.

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Mind and body reach compromise: play at old Bill’s pace

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

senior.Bball.web Bob Otto, front row, far left, and his senior basketball playing buddies find it hard to give up the game even with an assortment of nagging and sometimes serious injuries.

YUCAIPA, Calif – I have two parts to my being that sometimes argue over each other’s judgement – my mind and my body.

I play basketball in a senior pick-up league. We’re all a bunch of old guys with the youngest about 52. And way, way on the other side of the age spectrum is “old Bill” as we call him, at 81. I’m in the middle at 64.

But I seem to be the one getting hurt the most: pulled hamstring, strained calf muscles, two elbow shots to the mouth, a bloodied nose, and a sprained ankle along with a sore back.

But nothing too serious to keep me off the court. That is until July 1st.

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Senior basketballers celebrate the big guy’s birthday

Thursday, November 29th, 2012


If you’re age 50 and above, you’re eligible for basketball at the University of Loma Linda Drayson Center.

LOMA LINDA (Calif.) DRAYSON CENTER – The big man gets the ball in the paint four feet from the basket. His eyes widen, his body tenses, and then with a whirl to his left, he drives to the basket, finishing with a hook shot that he banks off the glass and falls cleanly through the net.

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Seniors love for basketball strong as ever

Thursday, November 29th, 2012


Bill Pittman plays much younger than his 76 years.

YUCAIPA, Calif. – The high, leaping jump shot? The fast break? Not so high, and not so fast anymore.

Their physical skills may have faded over the years, but what remains as strong as ever is their love for the game. And the men who play senior basketball at the Yucaipa Community Center, and the Loma Linda University Drayson Center still have plenty of that.

Their ages range from 50, such as Wallace Frisbey, the youngster of the group, to Bill Pittman, who plays much younger than his 76 years.

The seniors – numbering from 12 to 20 – get together from about noon to 1:30 three days a week to play the game they can’t seem to let go. They play hard and they play to win. But as far as in-your-face defense and win at all costs, that’s a no-no. Their game has become much more social than when they were youngsters tearing up the hardcourt.

“Our camaraderie is great,” said Pittman, who is a deadeye from about the 18-feet range. “I’ve been playing with these guys for about five years, and we’re all friends. But before joining the group, Pittman hadn’t played for about 40 years.

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Alford helps lead Summit’s big comeback in thrilling win over Lincoln

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011


Summit senior center, Dorian Cason, scored 6 points and pulled down 13 rebounds during the SkyHawks championship game with the Lincoln Hornets, Saturday, March 19, at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California.
Photo By BOB OTTO

USC, GALEN CENTER – The Summit boys’ basketball team needed someone to step up, someone to take charge.

Montigo Alford answered the call.

The 5-foot-10 senior guard ignited the offense down the stretch by scoring 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter in leading Summit to a stunning, come-from-behind 74-69 victory over the Lincoln Hornets of San Diego in the CIF State Division II Southern California Regional championship game last Saturday at the USC Galen Center.

“I told the guys, ‘This is it, we’ve got to keep playing, let’s do it,'” said Alford.

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