By TONY WHITE
HIGH fives, back slapping, raucous cheering and an eclectic mix of basketballing friends from Quensland to the south coast of NSW form an integral part of the annual Daily Examiner-Radio 2GF Jacaranda Basketball Carnival.
So too are The Entertainers, a diverse group of mates from Canterbury in Sydney.
For the past 15 years The Entertainers have made the pilgrimage to Grafton to 'have a good time and play some basketball,' says spokesman Brett Foster.
The Entertainers again wrote their names into the record book, winning back-to-back titles in the A grade men's section.
They have now won the premier section for four of the past five years.
"We love coming up here, we always have a great time," Foster said. "It's just a great weekend and luckily on court we've had a bit of good fortune over the years."
For The Entertainers and other teams from Queensland and around NSW, the social aspect of the carnival is just as important as the on court activities.
Word around town was The Entertainers celebrated big time at the Post Office Hotel on Saturday evening before backing up to win A grade the following day.
A local win was thwarted when The Entertainers out played the Oblisks winning comfortably 72-38. They led 33-22 at the half time break.
Three pointers abounded in the second stanza, The Entertainers relying on quick breakaways, a stoic defence pattern and pin point shooting.
The Oblisks are made up mainly of former and current players from the Grafton Vikings like Dan Boorman, Lance Predo and Marty Smith.
It was the team's first final after several years of trying.
"We'll be back next year," was the Oblisks catch cry.
This year also doubled as a Vikings reunion which was attended by up to 50 people, many ex-players and supporters there to cheer on the Oblisks in the final.
But it was The Entertainers game. The group of mates including an accountant, electrician, plumber, clerk, computor operator and university student.
This year 19 players arrived from Sydney and fielded two teams. After winning the A mens, the team crossed the court to support the B grade team who went down 42-41 to Frontline Soldiers in a thriller.
Grafton had another chance at a major victory when the Royals tackled Woy Woy in the C grade women's final.
The Royals featured local players Lisa Hodge, Jenny Pursey, Kim Parbery and Sandra Dahl.
In a close encounter however, the Royals went down 35-28.
In other finals Drunken State Ladies defeated Toowoomba 51-28 in the A grade women's, Breezers beat Suffolk Park Slammers 31-28 in the B grade women's and Murbar Magic snuck home 43-38 over Legends in the C grade men's final.
Legends, who have fielded teams in many divisions, have been attending the Jacaranda Baskettball Carnival for nearly 30 years.
This year's carnival attracted 50 teams and Grafton regional Sports and Entertainment Centre manager Bruce Leonard said the carnival's popularity continues to grow.