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Forty-two competitive and noncompetitive teams constitute Juneau's Ordway Basketball League. The 18-game season got underway on Nov. 11 and runs until Feb. 7, ending with a double elimination tournament championship game.
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Between the men's and women's six divisions, players from a large talent pool come together twice a week to scrap out a version of good, old run-and-gun, jungle ball.
The men's Division I teams battle for a spot in the Southeast's Gold Medal Basketball tournament and their games are played out at the University of Alaska Southeast student recreation center. Most people are in the league to have a good time, get some exercise, and see friends, but others are gung-ho serious and play with a mighty competitive edge.
Back in the 1950s, Bill Ordway taught school and coached hoops during the merger years of Juneau and Douglas high schools. Later Ordway directed the parks and recreation department and after passing away at age 82, the Hollingsworth league was commemorated in Ordway's name.
The game of basketball has changed drastically in the last 50 years. As an old school coach, Ordway may not approve of league's player demonstrations. To say the least, cheap fouls and poor passes pervade much of the play in the men's lower division teams.
Dave Pusich, Ordway's league coordinator, said, "We try to offer a way for people to get out there and have a good time without getting too, uh ... " There was a pause and after clearing his throat he continued, "I am not sure how to word that."
Aggressive, out of control, and violent are a few descriptions that could fill in the blank.
In a close Division III game, time was about to elapse when an intentional foul prompted oppositional threats like those from the scene of a street brawl. In the act of committing the tackling foul, a guy slid onto his back and quickly received air punches from the super-mad recipient.
Spectators were on edge as the recipient quickly evaded any further confrontation and leaped up to go to the free-throw line and shoot his foul shots. Other players threw no-look passes over their heads and shot long bomb passes that miserably resulted in numerous turnovers.
In better classic "Ordway" form, the women's division is not as aggressive or show-boated.
Women have the option to play noncompetitive basketball in the Women's Classic Division. Four teams make up this part of the league. Each team has 11 players from all different skill levels and basketball backgrounds. They do not keep score or worry about wins and losses, rather stick to the fundamentals of basketball and have a good time.
The games are always played in order to promote a good time. For the most part it occurred that most players were doing just that! Yet, in a fast paced, pumped up, and slam-dunking sport, incidents are bound occur due to the fact that some players defend the old adage, "No autopsy, no foul!"
No matter. In our diverse community, Ordway is a great outlet for more than 1 percent of Juneau's population. And that is a statistic that really points out the sport's popularity.