Scholastic basketball has come a long way since it was merely a 20-game schedule played as part of a high school team when you were a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior.
It's hard to believe now that there didn't used to be a formal State basketball tournament sanctioned by a formal governing body called the Indiana High School Athletic Association. It even seems like ages ago since there was classless basketball in the Hoosier state. But how things have changed, even in the past 10 years or more.
The days of being able to compete with the best basketball teams in the state when your players didn't pick up a basketball until the first day of practice are gone. Now many players are on the court nearly year round, working on their game, shooting, defending and sweating to be the best. For the past three years, Brazil has been host to the Brazil Venom, an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball team that has helped their players do exactly that.
AAU programs have been in vogue for a number of years now, but have been expanded to include both girls and boys' sports beginning as early as third grade and running through high school.
The Venom is specifically comprised of North Clay eighth grade students this year that have been playing together for several years at this point. Many of these players contributed to the school's 2002-03 season that culminated in the Eels first Western Indiana Conference title and a 14-5 record.
Coaches Chris Miller and Bernie Meunier have been at the helm since the current group were fifth graders and have geared themselves toward running the Northview High School offense and defense that varsity coach Mitch Lancaster has implemented.
At the seventh grade level last year, the team competed in 82 games in tournaments throughout the Midwest, winning 54 of them. No small feat considering the fact that the squad is comprised of players from one school while many AAU teams are All-Star teams from given areas.
This past summer the team competed at the Crawfordsville All-School tournament, placing second out of 17 teams and were runner-ups in the Bloomington USTOC All-Star class. That placing qualified them for the Midwest Nationals in Nashville, TN where again they fared very strongly with a third place amongst the best teams in Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Michigan and Tennessee.
The Northview High School coaching staff have committed themselves to supporting the team by participating in practices.
The team will play an extensive schedule throughout the winter and early spring beginning this weekend with games at the Old Brazil High School gym on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. The squad will face the West Vigo T-Wolves and the Vigo County Cougars in their season openers.
Providing these players with equipment, practice areas/time and traveling expenses as well as tournament fees is an expensive proposition that results in an estimated budget of $8,000 to $10,000 for a season. Those interested in donating to the team may do so in the following ways:
- Purchasing a spot in the Venom team program ($50 to $500).
- Purchasing a Pizza Hut discount card from on of the team's players ($10).
- Sponsoring a tournament ($500).
- Sponsoring shoes for the team ($900).
- Sponsoring uniforms for the team ($2,000).
- Attending a Venom game ($2 to $4).
- Or by making an anonymous donation (?).
* Checks may be made payable to: Brazil Venom Basketball, P.O. Box 334, Brazil, IN 47834.
|Jan. 25||Old Brazil High School Gym|
|Feb. 1-2||Bloomington (All-Star Class)|
|Feb. 7-9||Bloomington Sports Plex (All-School Class)|
|Feb. 15-16||Brazil (Venom Basketball Tourney - All-Star Class)|
|Feb. 22-23||Vincennes (All-Star Class)|
|Feb. 28||Scottsburg (AAU State Tourney - All-School Class)|
|Mar. 1-2||Scottsburg (AAU State Tourney - All-School Class)|
|Mar. 7-9||Brazil (Venom Round Ball Classic - All-Star Class)|
|Mar. 14-16||West Vigo (T-Wolves Tourney - All-Star Class)|
|April||(To Be Announced)|