As promised, the Fourth Annual Copper State Jam youth basketball tournament was bigger and better than ever.
This year's edition featured an inaugural girls division that drew 16 teams from around the state and one each from Socorro, N.M. and Las Vegas, Nev.
The small-school boys (less than 300 students) and all-school boys divisions also drew 16 teams.
With 48 teams on hand, the Jam was one of the largest youth basketball tournaments in Arizona.
Action began on Friday in four local gyms and continued until fabled trumpeter Jessie McGuire sounded the national anthem prior to the championship games Sunday afternoon.
Throughout the three days, the tournament was competitive and well supervised and sportsmanship was at a premium.
Having coached several eighth-grade boys teams in past Arizona junior high school state tournaments, I can honestly say the Jam is a much better event.
Hosting such a quality event in Payson, is a great tribute to tournament organizers and sponsors.
Friends in a deadknot
Payson Roundup fishing columnist Clifford Pirch hooked up with life-long friend Reese Randall to finish tied for seventh at an AllStar Bass team tournament held Feb. 9 at Apache Lake.
Pirch and Randall tied with the fishing team of Peoria residents George Bartuska and Dan Gaicki. Both teams weighed in 12.90 pounds of fish. For the finish, Pirch and Randall shared $775 in prize money.
With a six-bass limit of 20.96 pounds, top honors in the tournament were garnered by the father-and-son team of Neil and Linvel Howard of Phoenix. The pair received prizes totaling $4,245. In their catch was the tournament's second largest bass a 6.12-pounder.
According to AllStar spokesman Tom Stiles, the champs fished football-head spider jigs on vertical bluffs in 25 to 40 feet of water.
Other successful strategies included using cinnamon-colored hand-poured worms on walls in the river end of the lake and spider jigs on main-lake bluffs.
The big fish tournament prize of $1,000 was taken by Calimesa, Calif. resident Larry Cross and Dean Farrell of Glendale. The duo weighed in a lunker that tipped the scales at 7.01 pounds. Cross caught the fish on a finesse worm in 20 feet of water near a river point. The tournament attracted 264 participants.
The next AllStar Bass team tournament is March 9 at Bartlett Lake.
Call Stiles at (480) 894-2775 for more information.