FORT HOOD, Texas -- March Madness at Fort Hood is about more than brackets. Basketball season is celebrated at the Kouma and Montague village community with a basketball tournament, bounce houses, tug-of-war contests, sack races, music, drinks and grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and Polish sausages.

Leading up to Month of the Military Child, about 200 people, including dozens of kids, attended the 4th annual Kouma Classic March 18, in the Fort Hood family housing area.

As sausage and burgers sizzled on the grills, on the basketball court teams warmed up for the annual showdown.

Wearing a black-and-white striped T-shirt, referee LaFrance Hartman and Travis Boyce, village staffers, prepared to referee the 3-on-3 basketball team competition. Free-throw and layup contests also were held.

One contestant, Shamel Allwood, 11, plays basketball at Clear Creek Elementary School. He's an L.A. Lakers and Kobe Bryant fan and likes the North Carolina Tar Heels in college basketball.

"I like Kobe and North Carolina because I was born there," Allwood said, bouncing a basketball.

One of the smaller players on the court, Justice Henderson, 7, outmaneuvered many of his taller opponents, dribbling between and around them to score layups.

"I like the guys who do tricks and roll the basketball down their arms and off their heads. I try to spin the ball on my fingers. My favorite team is the Eastern All-Stars," he added, before rocketing off with the ball.

Nearby, on a short, adjustable-height plastic version of a basketball goal, Rebekah Franks, 6, took turns with other younger players attempting to dunk the basketball or make a layup.

"Rebekah likes to play basketball, but we came for the free food and the bounce house, mostly. It gives the kids a chance to meet some other kids from the neighborhood and for us to meet other families," said her father, Spc. Gerald Franks, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 2nd Chemical Battalion.

Kouma Village Mayor Brandie Renskowski said they usually have 150 to 350 people turn out for the spring event to earn their bragging rights.

"We have a lot of people in our community who are deployed, so they come from other housing developments, as well," she said.

Her husband, Robert, and Kouma/Montague manager Antonio Johnson joined Christine Klatt, a village staffer, at two smoking barbecue grills.

"I enjoy seeing all the residents coming out, enjoying themselves and having fun," said Klatt, who was serving as grillmeister for the second time.

Nancy Scarr, assistant manager for Kouma and Montague village, said the annual event is held in the spring because "Usually the weather is good enough to get everybody off the couch, away from their games and onto the courts."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16