CAMDEN By PATRIC FLANNIGAN
The city of Camden made a splash during the South Arkansas Youth Basketball League Championship games that were held at Coleman Gym on Sunday.
Each of Camden’s four pee wee basketball teams played in championship games and its cheerleading squads also represented well in the cheering competition with one Camden squad finishing as runner ups.
The Queen City Panthers 3rd and 4th grade girls and 5th and 6th grad boys teams won the championship. The 2nd and 3rd grade Ouachita Rockets also captured a championship.
The Camden Gators and Camden Bulls captured runner up trophies as well as the Ouachita Rockets cheer team.
This was the first time the SAYBL Championships were hosted in Camden as the league host is the first place team from the regular season.
QCP coaches were especially thankful after the game and talked about the event being a success.
“We want to thank God for allowing us to be here today and host this on such a great Sunday,” QCP 3/4 Girls Coach Rickey Burnell said. “We want to thank the entire community. All the communities that came out - Magnolia of course our four Camden teams, you had El Dorado that came up. Parkers Chapel. Just everybody who came out to support the SAYBL we hope to see’em here this next season. We got some great things that are coming.”
QCP Coach Darr’ell Atkins thanked all the teams that made up the SAYBL for their hard work during the season and was especially thankful for team parents.
“We appreciate all the teams involved this year,” Atkins said. “All the teams Rickey said then you have Smackover and Strong. Those are all teams that make up the SAYBL. I’d like to thank my parents too. For putting up with us and bringing their kids to practice.
Championship Sunday was full of competitive games as each one was decided by three points or less.
“All the games were nail biters,” Burnell said. “My team had a nail bitter right to the end and we pulled it off by one. Plus the other Queen City Panthers 5th and 6th pulled it off by one as well.”
Atkins and Burnell also spoke about some of the talented student athletes that coming up in the area.
“It’ll be hard to just pin point one player,” Atkins said. “We had the ultimate team experience Sunday. From DeJuan Wesley - he made a lot of big plays. Played real big down low...Made a couple of drives from outside and had a couple of strong finishes. Devion Powell, our other big guy held it down, down low and had a couple of put backs that were big put backs. Even had a fast break which I’ve said all year, ‘Devion, if you get the ball you do not go on a fast break.’ He defied me, but I don’t got no problem with that today because he went all the way down and laid it up off the glass at a crucial point of the game.
“My son, Juney (Darr’ell Atkins Jr.) played good and had a couple of key buckets for us. It’s funny because I was telling him at a late timeout to go strong to the cup and right there at the end of the game he turned the corner, went strong, got chest to chest and drew the foul to get to the free throw line and give us a lift. Ronald “Buck” Buchanan is such a great defensive player. He was all over the place. Steal, after steal after steal. Rebound after rebound. Then I gotta mention Perrion Howell. In my opinion the best point guard in Arkansas. I know thats a big statement and he has a lot of growing to do but when I say he has the handles, he has the moves, he plays great ball and has great ball IQ. Those boys just played some great ball Sunday.”
“I got the luxury to coach a six footer (MaKayla Fusilier) and man she did her thing,” Burnell said.
“My daughter, Mya Burnell came in there right at the end and got us a nice basket to put us up by one. Ultimately, my guard play is what won it for us. Kaleah Harris and Jarissala Howell. I just appreciate their hard work. Keep an eye on these kids because we got some great future Lady Cardinals .