By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

Copperas Cove police has enlisted its best players to take on Killeen police officers in a charity basketball game Saturday.

The inaugural Battle of the Badges game will raise money for the Copperas Cove Crusaders Basketball Program and S.M.I.L.E.

Annual basketball games were once a tradition and a friendly rivalry existed between the two law enforcement agencies in the 1990s, but due to some issues the games were discontinued.

More than 10 years later, Cove Lt. Eddie Wilson hopes to bring the tradition back making the game an annual event.

Wilson, coach for one of the Crusaders Basketball teams, came up with the idea after brainstorming possible fundraisers for the youth basketball program.

Wilson wants to make the game bigger every year.

About 10 Copperas Cove police officers were recruited for the inaugural game, and Wilson said Thursday Killeen police had about 10 players also.

Jeff Stoddard with CCPD played in the games against Killeen in the '90s. This time around Stoddard said it's a lot harder.

"Killeen and our department have been pretty close, so it'll be fun to get back on the court," he said. "It's always fun."

"The Crusaders and S.M.I.L.E. are great programs. They're great for the community and great for the kids, so any time I can give to help."

Cpl. Kevin Keller with Copperas Cove police said the department worked with Killeen police and other area law enforcement agencies in a Cowboys versus cops games where officers played Dallas Cowboys legends in a basketball game.

For the kids

The Crusaders basketball program is an Amateur Athletic Union program with boys' and girls' teams from fifth grade to varsity level.

The program helps prepare kids for high school basketball and beyond, said Lisa Wilson, mother of seventh-grade Crusaders player Alex Wilson.

Martha Blount, assistant coach for the seventh-grade girls' team and mom of player Mikayla Blount, said she is a "true die-hard sports mom."

Blount, who played basketball in high school and in the Army, is a female role model to the girls. She said Mikayla has been playing basketball since she was about 4 and it's what she loves.

Blount said through the program she does not have to worry about Mikayla because she is always in the gym with parental supervision.

S.M.I.L.E., which means Special Memories In Life Everyday, was a good fit for the program to share the game's proceeds with because of the work both departments do for the Special Olympics.

S.M.I.L.E. raises money so disabled and seriously ill children can experience activities in life they would not be able to otherwise.

Every year the department raises money for and participates in the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police adopted the Torch Run. The IACP is recognized as the founding law enforcement organization of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

If you go

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: S.C. Lee Junior High School gym, 1205 Courtney Lane, Copperas Cove

Cost: $5 for adults, children 5 and younger are admitted free.

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