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Aussie team edges Knights

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    It was a basketball game, but in a way it much, much more.
    Two cultures met on the basketball court Monday night when the Sydney (Australia) High School boys basketball team Monday for competition in Sulphur Springs against the C.H.E.S.S. Knights.

    The blokes from down under won the game 65-52 before several hundred fans in the recreational area of Central Baptist Church. The Aussies also won the junior varsity contest 64-32.
    While the Knights did not come out to be the winners, they were richer for the experience. Just like their counterparts from some 9,300 miles away.
    Dan Flynn, state representative District 2, summed it up when he said it was a special night when the two teams could be involved in an athletic event and display sportsmanship toward each other.
    Flynn said, “It very good that these two teams can come together. Australia has always been one of our (the United States) dearest allies. They have always been there when we needed them.”
    Flynn presented the group of players and coaches from Sydney, Australia an official Texas state flag flown in their honor in Austin.
    “It’s fun to meet the young men from Australia, they could not wait to compete. They brought an international flavor here to Hopkins County,” Flynn said. “I’m glad I got a chance to watch them play. It’s exciting for me and everyone involved to have such visitors. I have watched many of the C.H.E.S.S. team players as they have grown up and they have done well. I am just thrilled for this opportunity to be here.”
    C.H.E.S.S. coach Donnie South helped set the game up with the team which was touring Texas.
    South said, “Three teams came over from Australia. This one was in Texas and stayed in the state, they went to Waco, Houston, Austin and won a tournament in San Antonio. They were in the Dallas area and needed another game and we set this up. We’re glad we got to do it, it was an interesting experience for all of us. It was a great competitive game, but more importantly it was a cultural experience that the teams will not forget. We provided dinner for both teams following the game, exchanged gifts, and discussed life and the differences and similarities of both countries. We want to thank state representative Dan Flynn for attending and presenting the state flag, and also thank all the fans for attending and showing support to both teams.”
    The Sydney team went 9-2 in the varsity games played in Texas on the recent tour.
    During regular competition, the team plays more under international rules. They were used to having a shot clock and a 3-point line which was more on the college level than the dimension used in high schools.
    The trip featured basketball, but it was a cultural exchange with the players from down under impressed with many places they visited in Texas.
    “We visited the University of Texas football stadium in Austin... it was so big and it’s not even the biggest  stadium in the state,” said Eamon Kelly, a 6-foot guard. “It has seats that stretch hundreds of meters into the sky. The Ferrell Center at Baylor is another huge place we toured. I was just impressed with the emphasis placed on the huge sporting facilities in Texas.”
    Kelly is not only a good basketball player, but a serious student who wants to pursue a medical career in his native Australia.
    “I was impressed with how nice the people area,” Kelly said. “I am also a big fan of the tacos and steaks in Texas.”
    The tallest member of the team, Geoffrey Gerlach who stands 201 centimeters in Australia, but is measured at 6-foot 7 1/2, 240 pounds in the U.S., also had a fine game scoring 18 points and enjoyed the trip.
    “I like the burgers. Texas has really good burgers, I don’t eat that many burgers back home,” Gerlach said. “This has been an excellent trip. The hospitality everyone has shown us is wonderful. Everyone just opens up to you.”
    Gerlach likes to play rugby when not on the basketball court. He’s an 18-year-old senior who is looking forward to college.
    “I might play basketball in college, I’ve had offers,” Gerlach said. “I am going to college and see where that leads me.”
    The squad has completed their basketball schedule, but still have more sights to see in Texas.
    Assistant coach Graeme Reid said the team was making a special trip in Arlington.
    “We have a 12 noon tour set up Tuesday at Cowboys Stadium,” Reid said. “We are really looking forward to it.”
    Reid said he hopes to arrange a meeting with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
    “Two of the girls on the squad are from Australia,” Reid said. “It would be good to meet them while we are here.”
    One of the cheerleaders is from Sydney, the other, Melbourne.        The group also plans to visit the JFK Museum before returning to Australia.
    The game was played in good fun before a crowd of interested onlookers.    
    The C.H.E.S.S. team started slowly against the visitors. The Sydney team featuring a tall, yet agile lineup with good shooters.
    The first quarter ended with Sydney holding a small 11-7 lead.
    In the second frame the Aussies found their range and got their legs under them. Mitchell Flynn, high point for the team hit three 3-pointers as the visitors padded the lead to 30-11 at the half.
    The Knight made a run in the second half to reduce the lead.

Sydney High School 65, C.H.E.S.S. 52
C.H.E.S.S.  7  7  16  22  -52
Sydney    11  19  20  15  -65
C.H.E.S.S.- Nick Gonzalez 14, Austin McKim 14, Austin South 10, Ben Holladay 8, Joel Collins 6.
Sydney High-Mitchell Flynn 19, Geoff Gerlach 18, Eamon Kelly 14, Jack Hutchison 12, Max Menzel 2

Next up - C.H.E.S.S. is 19-5 and will play at Avery at 8 p.m. Tuesday




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