Tryouts, Tragedy And A Chance To Be Great

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Parents who missed the four player-registration opportunities held the past month, have one final chance to sign their children up for 2006 play.

The final registration, as well as tryouts, will begin at 9 a.m. Feb. 25 on the Rumsey south multipurpose field.

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Team practices for Little League will begin after the tryouts and the season tip off in April.

The fee is $60 for the first child in a family and $55 for each additional sibling. Parents will also be asked to volunteer in some form during the 2006 season.

Tryouts are mandatory for players 9 years of age and older hoping to play in the majors division.

Team practices will begin after the tryouts and the season tip off in April.

Call Linda Schreur at (928) 472-9331 for more information.

Coach, town face tragedy

Anyone who has followed Arizona prep sports the past three decades recognizes the name Joe Burnside.

He's the Safford High School Athletic Director and a highly successful basketball coach.

Through the years, he's built a reputation as a genuine good guy and a coach who is in the profession for all the right reasons -- to help kids.

Coach Burnside and many others in Safford suffered a huge tragedy last week when they were told Marine Cpl. Brandon Schuck was killed by an improvised explosive devise during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq.

Brandon, the first known military casualty of Iraq from Safford, graduated from SHS in 1994.

At the school, he was a standout athlete in football, basketball and golf.

After arriving in Safford as a junior, Brandon told Burnside he was homeless.

So, Burnside and his wife, Cece, took Brandon in and allowed him to live in their home until he graduated.

In the summer of 1994, Brandon enlisted in the Marines and married his girlfriend, Megan. The two had a son, Gavin, who turned one year old about five days before Brandon was killed.

He had been in Iraq since late August.

Megan and Gavin are now staying in Safford with her parents.

Brandon's body will be returned to Safford, and a funeral will be held later this week.

Hoop it up

The second annual Basketball Bonanza highlights the upcoming youth sport scene.

The competition, sponsored by the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association and the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, tips off at 9 a.m. Feb. 25 in the Payson High School gymnasium.

"This is a great opportunity for boys and girls to show off their skills and hopefully participate at a higher level," said Charlene Hunt, recreation specialist for the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

The event is free of charge and open to both boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14.

In the competition, boys and girls will participate in one of six age/gender divisions: 9-10 years, 11-12 years and 13-14 years.

In the local competition, players can compete in one or all three basketball contests -- free throw, hot shot and three-point shootout.

In the free throw contest, each player attempts 10 consecutive free throws and the player making the most shots will be declared the division winner. Those in the 9 to 10 age group have the option of shooting from two feet inside the free throw line.

In the hot shot competition, players begin on a referee's whistle at the half-court line and dribble into shooting range, where they must shoot from a minimum of three different locations out of seven predesignated spots, during a one-minute period.

Each shot location will be assigned a point value based on its difficulty.

Those who attempt shots from each of the seven locations will receive a five-point bonus.

The youngster scoring the most points in the time period will be deemed the division winner.

In the three-point shootout, a rack of five balls will be placed at five locations around the three-point line, 19 feet, 9 inches from the baskets.

Each player will have one minute to shoot as many times as possible around the arc. Each successful shot with one of the first four balls on the rack is worth one point. The fifth ball, deemed the "money ball," is worth two points.

The winners of the Payson competition will be eligible to advance to a statewide Basketball Bonanza at the former America West Arena in Phoenix.

At the state level, players may compete in just one skill contest.

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