Boys & Girls Club teens face off in a competitive basketball showcase


Credit: Damarion Johnson

Senior from Kalamazoo Central Jakeise Gardner puts on a show and puts shock in the eyes of the fans of the Adrian Boys & Girls Club. Teammate, Sophomore at Kalamazoo Central Jamare Sims, sets a screen to open up Gardner for a wide open mid-range jumper.

Damarion Johnson, Guest Writer

On Friday, January 24, 2020, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo’s Lake Street unit took a trip to a memorable basketball game against the Boys & Girls Club of Lenawee in Adrian, Michigan. There hasn’t been any time when Lake Street has gone up against another club outside of their counterparts, Northeastern Boys & Girls Club and Douglass Boys & Girls Club. So, for them, this is one of their biggest opportunities to show what they’re made of and make a statement that they themselves are a talented club full of excitement.  

This game was scheduled to test Lake Street’s abilities in a more competitive game rather than a normal, friendly game. Though they play competitively almost everyday, the staff at Lake Street haven’t pushed them to the limit yet against another team. Every member, such as Kalamazoo Central sophomore Jamare Sims, either has a background of basketball in their life or even just as a skilled hobby. Either way, each player expresses a significant sense of pride and dedication in their skillset. 

“Though we don’t practice in an organized manner, we play with each other all the time,” Kalamazoo Central senior Jakeise Gardner said. “So it’s almost as if we’re practicing. We get better off of each other; therefore, we need to show that on the court”.  

The trip to Adrian took about an hour and a half. With this, the players of Lake Street didn’t want to travel all this way just to lose; therefore, this was their motivation to play harder and represent their Boys and Girls Club. At the end of an exhausting game, Lake Street came out with a landslide victory, though it was close at the end with the final score at 53-47. Staff and parents of the Lake Street players were very proud to hear that they came out with the win.

The Boys & Girls Club Lake Street unit is one step closer to beginning a professional team with the teens. A selective few players have been notified if any information on the league comes out. This is essential for the players of the unit because those like Gardner have a passion for the sport and are willing to do whatever it takes to showcase their skills and get potential college scouts looking in their direction. These players are hoping to get the opportunity to form a league, play against other clubs, and sharpen their abilities, not only for their own benefits but to represent their Boys & Girls Club.

Senior Jakeise Gardner had a mesmerizing night putting up 35 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. With a few jaw-dropping highlights, such as his dunks that shocked the crowd of the Adrian Boys & Girls Club of Lenawee, Gardner has put his foot down and guaranteed that losing was not going to be on his mind at all. Gardner has grown up in a family of purebred basketball players that are known for their impressive abilities; therefore, he sets a very high standard for himself on the court. Disciplined and determined, Gardner knew he wasn’t going down without a fight.

“There’s no way I’m traveling this far to play out of town just to lose,” Gardner said. “We have to play our hardest, no matter who’s on the floor.”

Gardner, along with every other player on the team, refused to lose on such a memorable event that could shape the way basketball is run at their unit.  Whatever the cost, these players are willing to do almost anything to make the best of their opportunities and get the proper respect they deserve.

The Lake Street unit awaits further requests to play either at home or outside of home with hopeful regards of acquiring an organized team and be recognized for their efforts. As of right now, it’s still in consideration, but work is being put in to make it a reality.