Mission accomplished—youth basketball team scrimmages at Air Force Academy
Members of the Green Raptors pose with the Air Force Academy mascot. From Left to right: Sofia Bonnstetter, Luke Armstrong, Maddex McKinzie, Jack Sutherland, Charlie Abner, Alex Huser, Connor Wolff, Davis Moon, Brandon Pillsbury and Luke O’Brien.
By Daniel Williams; photo courtesy of Andrea Moon
When Air Force played Division II Western State Colorado in men’s basketball on December 4, the game had an 80108 feel to it. The Green Raptors, a team of first and second graders from the Castle Pines Athletics league, scrimmaged at halftime.
“It was a really cool experience for the kids. They loved it,” said Andrea Moon, a Castle Pines Village resident and the Green Raptors coach. “The coolest things were the Air Force players, the referees and even the players from the other team were so nice about us being there. They came over and shook hands and gave the kids high-fives.”
The Green Raptors roster, according to Andrea, are representative of the area’s schools. They come from American Academy, Timber Trail, Buffalo Ridge and one from Cherry Hills Christian Academy. The players rode to the Air Force Academy with their parents and watched the first half of the Falcons game from the stands before heading to the main stage for a full court, seven-minute game of 5-on-5.
Green Raptors players who participated in the scrimmage were Sofia Bonnstetter, Luke Armstrong, Maddex McKinzie, Jack Sutherland, Charlie Abner, Alex Huser, Connor Wolff, Davis Moon, Brandon Pillsbury and Luke O’Brien.
Normally, kids in the co-ed basketball program practice and play at DCS Montessori School in Castle Pines. So, playing at Clune Arena and its 5,939-capacity facility might have seemed a little daunting, but the bigger challenge to the players was shifting from an 8-foot to a ten-foot goal.
“It was interesting,” said Andrea, referring to the higher rim. “The players took a lot of shots, a lot of close shots, but none of them went in so the scrimmage ended in a 0-0 tie.”
The Green Raptors, however, might have inspired the home team. The Falcons played a listless first half, at one point falling behind by 23 points. A late run narrowed the deficit to 13 points, and, after watching the gritty Green Raptors fighting and scrapping for every loose ball, Air Force dominated the second half, eventually winning 79-67.
When asked what it was like playing on the big stage, Davis Moon, Andrea’s son, answered in typical elementary school fashion, “It was really fun.”
And with “fun” being the top priority for the players, it was mission accomplished for the Green Raptors trip to the Air Force Academy.