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Above the rim in the 'Brick House'
With his high-tops laced and the clock winding down, John Casey sprung from his seat at the end of the bench.
He paced the sideline, hooting and pointing, until the whistle blew.
“Sub, please! Sub!”
And in marched Casey, the 41-year-old player/coach whose skills, he admits, don’t rival his passion for the game.
Twice the age of some teammates — twice the cheerleader, too — Casey sees limited playing time on his recreation-league basketball team. Instead, the coach barks orders from the sidelines, shuffling the lineup of a team made up primarily of 20-somethings.
“When we get a 20-point lead, that’s when I put myself in,” said Casey, only partially joking after his team’s lopsided win in a Bremerton Parks and Recreation adult basketball league Division 2 contest last week.
Bremerton Parks offers fall and winter adult basketball leagues for male and female players ages 16 and up. Each league is divided into three divisions — 1, 2 and 3 — based on skill and experience, Division 1 being the most competitive.
And for players in Bremerton and Central Kitsap, the city leagues are the only option for those wishing to participate in organized basketball. The games are officiated, score is kept and teams play eight-game schedules plus a postseason tournament.
There also is a “boys” league, which begins in December and is open players who are eighth- through 12th-graders.
All Bremerton rec-league basketball games are played at the Sheridan Park Community Center in East Bremerton. The gymnasium, also known as the “Brick House,” hosts games Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Each contest includes two, 20-minute periods with a running clock, and players are allowed six fouls before they’re ejected.
“The main goal is to have close, competitive games,” said Scott Evans, the league coordinator.
For players like Casey, who sponsors his own team and has been a player/coach for the past three seasons, the adult league allows him to stay fit and spend time with friends. He pays the league fee of $535 for his entire team, “Casey’s Bail Bonds,” and assembles the roster, made up mainly of younger friends.
Casey enjoys the camaraderie more than the competition. Many games, he plays less than five minutes.
“I get to hang out with people I wouldn’t otherwise see during the work week,” said Casey, of Port Orchard.
Other athletes, however, play for different reasons.
Jasmine Campbell, a 5-foot-10-inch forward who plays for the Olympic College women’s basketball team, participates in recreational ball during the college offseason to get practice against bigger, stronger players.
She is a teammate of Casey’s and was the lone female athlete on the court during last week’s game, exchanging elbows and diving for loose balls against her male counterparts.
“They challenge me,” said Campbell, who will begin her sophomore season for Olympic in November.
Dietrich Rios, another member of Casey’s team, has played competitive basketball his entire life.
But the 6-foot-4-inch player recently graduated from Olympic College, where he played on the men’s basketball team for two seasons.
Now he turns out for the adult league simply to stay involved in the game.
“If you play basketball, dust off your shoes and come out,” he said.