By Scott Kindberg
BUFFALO - Maceo Wofford and Dusty Carlson have played together in Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournaments for more than a dozen years. During that time, their hoops travels have annually taken them around the state in pursuit of asphalt bragging rights.
And, virtually every year, the Jamestown residents have returned home with a championship trophy.
Last weekend was no different.
Then, again, maybe it was.
For not only did Wofford and Carlson - along with teammates Steve Breth and Jaysean Paige - claim another open men's title, but they also did it in downtown Buffalo, which is recognized nationally as one of the biggest and best Mackers in the country.
Sponsored by Gerald's Barbershop, the four local men recorded a perfect 5-0 record, including a 17-15 victory over Nowak in the championship game.
''It's amazing what you can get done when nobody cares who gets the credit,'' said Breth, 45.
Combining their talents brilliantly, the Barbershop took advantage of the athleticism of Wofford and Paige and the grittiness of Carlson and Breth underneath the basket to offset their lack of size.
''Steve and Dusty know how I play,'' Wofford said. ''They know what I do and when I do it. ... Jaysean is a good asset with his athleticism alone. I can't think of a specific time where one person got selfish or where one person complained. It was an all-around effort.''
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Wofford and Carlson were part of a team that won the Macker open men's title several years ago, and Breth has reached the finals on a few occasions as well, but this one, they say, was the most special.
''I kind of felt like we were supposed to win,'' said Carlson, 34. ''We're older (except for Paige who is 18) and we were playing against young college kids and we were real small. The guys up there are just (physical) freaks. They're athletic, they can play and they all have a guy who is 6-8 and can jump.''
But the Barbershop had that something extra.
''We were down 5-1 in one game and Maceo just took it over,'' Breth said. ''He said, 'Just give me the ball.' Dusty and I just love setting screens with him, and we screen and roll all day.''
Covering Maceo was difficult enough, Breth said, but with Paige it only compounded the problem for the Barbershop's opponents. The former Jamestown High School standout and the 2011 Post-Journal Player of the Year, Paige transferred to Perry County Central in Hazard, Ky. for his senior year. A first-team all-state choice for Perry Central, he played one year at the College of Southern Idaho (he led the team in scoring with a 13.4 average) and will leave soon for Moberly Area Community College in Missouri.
''The way (Wofford and Paige) play defense, rebound and shoot, it's a great mix of everyone,'' Carlson said. ''Steve and I sub out, set screens and do our part. It came out perfect.''
When the tournament was over, Wofford and Paige found refuge at a Buffalo Starbucks. Wofford said he ordered a venti caramel frappuccino.
''Double-blended,'' Wofford said with a laugh, ''with extra caramel drizzle.
''I love it.''
But, rest assured, nothing will be as sweet as the taste of a Buffalo Macker victory.