Panthers bring home the hardware

The Elder basketball team headed down to Florida over break and swept the tourney.

Over the Christmas break the Elder Varsity basketball team went to Fort Lauderdale to compete in the Westminster Academy  holiday tournament. We were there from December 26th till we came home on New Years’ Eve. Being on the team I can speak for all of us when I say the trip was a blast and productive.

Saturday (December 26)

The flight from Cincinnati to Florida left at nine in the morning, so we were up at CVG bright and early. The flight landed around 11:30 and we were off to the beach. Going from 45 degree weather to 85 was immaculate. Sun beating down on your face, sand in between your toes, there is no other feeling like that.

Ft. Lauderdale beach. Photo by Ryan Custer

When we saw the water we ran about 50 yards like five year old kids because we were so excited. The water was just the right temperature and it felt great to be in the ocean. We quickly got bored so we purchased a water football, and man does that stuff wear you down.

Once we were done there we went back to the hotel to get ready for practice. We practiced for about an hour at Westminster’s gym and then headed back to eat some pizza. After eating, showering, and playing some euchre, we all headed to bed for the night.

Sunday (December 27)

It was early rising on Sunday to attend nine o’clock Mass at St. John the Baptist. After Mass we headed to the outside courts for a short shoot around and practice. After a sweaty practice it was off to the beach for the second day in a row.

This was a another gorgeous day to catch some rays, and we were all so excited to get there. Of course we started off running into the ocean as children again, but we quickly changed over to a pick-up football game.

Seniors vs. Juniors so all of you obviously know how that one ended. After 4-5 hours at the beach we were all dead and went back to the hotel.

Custer in the hot tub. Photo by David Heisel


A nice cool off in the hot tub and it was off to showers and naps for everyone. Once we all woke up it was off to a sports bar and grill to enjoy some good food. Among all of the food eating, Ryan Custer and I competed in the most intense game of Jenga the state of Florida has ever seen.

Giant jenga game. Photo from David Heisel’s phone




I of course won, but then we all headed to bed to get ready for another day in paradise.


Monday (December 28)

Monday morning came and it was another early rising for us boys.  We started off the day by getting a nice helping of McDonald’s breakfast.  After that, we just sat around the hotel and sat by the pool.  At around 11:30 or so we took a trip over to Chipotle right across the street.  13 guys and a big highway to cross just don’t mix very well.  We made it safely to the restaurant and sat down to eat.

There was one problem with the seating though.  There were only 12 seats at the table so one person was getting left out.  That person happened to be Dave, my fellow writer, which didn’t really matter because, it’s Dave.  After we grubbed, we headed back to the hotel to swim and hang out.  Monday was game day and the team we were playing was no walk in the park, or so we thought.  We ended up beating them by 24 points to coast to our first victory.

The car ride home with the Heisel’s was nothing short of hilarious.  Seven people shoved into a Ford Fusion didn’t work out so well but that’s the beauty of it.  We then went back to the hotel and showered and headed over to a sports bar to watch the Bengals blow it against the Broncos.  We came back to the hotel and sat in our rooms for a while until everyone fell asleep


Tuesday (December 29)

The morning was the same as Mondays’, another early rising to eat yet another helping of McDonald’s breakfast.  We went to the beach and had a blast.  The waves were even bigger than the previous days and it couldn’t have been better.  We stayed for a few hours and then went back to the hotel to chill before the game.  We played a team called Sidwell Friends, which happens to be the school that Obama and Biden send their kids to.  We beat them by 12 and were gearing up for the Championship Game.

The after-game car ride was the same as the night before.  The song, “At a Medium Pace” became the team song for the week.  Scott Heisel, Dave’s father, loved the song and was definitely feeling it when he pulled out the dance moves.

The Ford Fusion packed and bumpin'
The Ford Fusion packed and bumpin’. Selfie from David Heisel

Wednesday (December 30)

Like the past two days, the routine was the same but today, we decided not to go to the beach because we knew that we had a tough game ahead of us, playing the host team, who we beat the previous two years.  We sat around the hotel most of the day.  Some of the kids went to the movies and some of us ventured a mile or two down the street to eat Wendy’s.  Unfortunately for Austin O’Brien, he lost a bet and had to buy us Frostys when we were there.  Luckily for him, they were only 99 cents.

A picture of the team and all the fans that came to support us. Photo courtesy of David Heisel.

Game time came and we were ready for the challenge.  It was a close game the whole time but we pulled away at the end, with the help of their coach getting a technical foul in the final seconds.  That pretty much put the nail in the coffin.  We were champs for the third year in a row.  We all went back and stayed up until about 2:30 because we had to get up at 4:30 in order to make a 7:00 flight.


a view from the plane
View coming home. Photo by Ryan Custer


Overall it was a great trip and winning the championship made it that much better.  There is nothing better than being with some of your closest friends and teammates down south in the warm weather winning a championship while having some fun on the side.  Hopefully the teams in the future can enjoy this experience and keep the wining tradition alive.