SHELBY – As local weather begins to transition from autumn to winter, the squeak of sneakers will begin to dominate youth basketball gym floors.

The YMCA of North Central Ohio Shelby branch began its Junior Cavs youth basketball program when practices began Nov. 2.

Children competing in youth basketball program.
The Junior Cavs program began Nov. 2 and runs through Dec. 29.

Youth basketball program details

Children ages 6 to 12, grades one through six, are participating in the program which hosts practices every Tuesday, with games taking place on Thursday evenings.

The season began with practice Nov. 2 and will continue to run through Dec. 29.

Each participant of the program receives a Junior Cavs jersey and one free ticket to a Cleveland Cavaliers home basketball game.

Furthermore, family members and friends of participants have the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets to the Cavaliers game.

Partnership with Shelby’s Connect Church

Connect Church, located at 4062 London W. Road in Shelby, has partnered with the YMCA of North Central Ohio Shelby branch to host program games this season in the church gymnasium.

Pastor Rick Lewis said the partnership between his church and the YMCA began three years ago and has been running smoothly ever since.

Children competing in youth basketball program.
Connect Church will host four games each Thursday throughout the season, for a total of 28 games hosted during the season’s entirety.

“The YMCA (Shelby branch) was just overwhelmed with the volume of kids participating,” Lewis said. “So we got hooked up with them and we’ve really enjoyed it (hosting games).”

Connect Church hosts four games in their gymnasium each Thursday night throughout the season, he said, and will host 28 total games by the end of the season.

Lewis expressed thanks for church member Tom Keller, who oversees the program’s operations at the church, he said.

“(Keller) lives for this,” Lewis said. “From one season to the next, he loves it.”

The church offers concessions on-site for the many parents and grandparents who attend games, he said.

“We can have two games playing at once in our gym,” Lewis said. “So it works out really good.”

Staying engaged with the community

Lewis said his church is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the city’s YMCA and loves staying engaged with community members.

“Our church people love being involved with the community,” he said. “We love it.”

Connect Church tries to be involved with any related to the Shelby community, Lewis said, and the partnership with the youth basketball program has been a great way to stay engaged.

“Being able to have a place for the kids, parents and grandparents to come to is important,” he said. “We just love people coming in and being able to use the gym.”

Visit the YMCA of North Central Ohio Shelby branch website to learn about other youth sports programs available.

To learn more about Connect Church, visit their Facebook page.

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Staff reporter at Richland Source since 2023. I focus on the city of Shelby and northern Richland County news. Shelby H.S./Kent State alum. Have a story to share? Email me at