CRESTVIEW Typically in basketball, the team tries to shoot enough baskets to score the most points.

CRESTVIEW  Typically in basketball, the team tries to shoot enough baskets to score the most points.

Officials at two churches do things a little differently.

Central Baptist and Live Oak Baptist Churches' Upward Basketball and Cheerleading league, for kindergartners through sixth-graders, offers stars, and points, on the court.

"They have different stars (attached to their uniforms): one is (for) offense, one is defense," said Coach Andrew Slentz, who works with "The Jazz," a group of third- and fourth-grade boys and girls. "Then they have a white (star), which is for Christ-like."

That star is the biggest difference, Live Oak Pastor Jerry Nelson  said.

"The unique thing about this league is that we get to spread the word of God," he said. "It's an opportunity to get out and have fun playing basketball and, more importantly, teach some scripture."

That happens during half-time. Nelson delivered a brief, inspirational message during a recent Saturday game.

There are other differences between Upward and other North Okaloosa teams. 

Upward allows children in the same age range, regardless of sex, to play together, Kristy Larkins, Central Baptist's Recreational Outreach Center Kid Care director, said.

Play, not compete, is the key word.

"This is not a competitive league," she said. "They all get the equal amount of playing time."

That's beneficial, Nelson said.

"It helps develop their character and confidence," he said.

The league's final games take place March 15 with an awards ceremony on  the following Monday.

Call 682-5525 for details.


WHAT: Upward Basketball and Cheerleading registration

WHEN:  2:30-6 p.m. Monday through Friday

WHERE: Central Baptist Church'sRecreational Outreach Center, 1005 S. Pearl St., Crestview

COST: $70 per child to register

Email News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown, follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.