Memory of LHS grad who died in accident honored in basketball tournament to benefit scholarship

Sigma Sigma Sigma members from Pittsburg State University hug fellow member Alexis Scheibler, 18, far left, sister of Preston Scheibler, who died in an October all-terrain vehicle accident, as a friend of Preston wearing a hooded sweatshirt in his honor photographs them on Saturday. A benefit basketball tournament is being held this weekend to raise funds for a scholarship in Preston’s name that will go to a Lawrence High School student with a learning disability.

From left, Amanda Verynck of Lawrence, 23, former girlfriend of Preston Scheibler, gets a hug from Mistie Copas-Thomas, Preston’s mother, as they look over a collage during a benefit basketball tournament Saturday.

There are the familiar sounds of sneakers skidding on wood and basketballs thwomping against the court, but this is not an ordinary game. To the side of the court, there are a dozen pictures of a smiling boy and newspaper clippings telling of athletic glory.

“One thing about Preston is his smile. That always got me,” said Jamar Reese, standing a few feet away from the display.

The boy in the pictures is Preston Scheibler, and all of the people at Cougar’s Court Basketball Academy, 940 E. 28th St., are there to honor his memory. Scheibler died in October after being injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in rural Douglas County. He was 21.

Scheibler was an athletic dynamo and a member of the Lawrence High boys basketball team that made it to the state championship in 2008. So it was fitting that three of his friends organized a basketball tournament to benefit a scholarship in his honor. They plan on holding more.

Scheibler’s mother, Mistie Copas-Thomas, said the scholarship would go to a Lawrence High student with a learning disability. She said her son was quite intelligent but had trouble when it came to standardized tests. He attended Highland Community College on a baseball scholarship, but those standardized tests scores closed off many other scholarships.

“We wanted a scholarship for people who might not qualify for others,” Copas-Thomas said.

Organizers said the tournament had raised nearly $2,000 as of Saturday night, which continues today. About 70 people, including Scheibler’s sister Alexis Scheibler, donated to play in the tournament, and many nonplayers donated too. Meghan McBride, who organized the tournament along with friends Cornelius Edwards and Douglas Compton, said the money was more than they had hoped for.

“Preston was completely fun-loving and very caring. He would have loved to have been able to do something like this for someone else,” she said.

McBride remembered Scheibler as a jokester on the basketball court. For a while he had taken to calling himself “Perfect Shot,” a play off his initials, P.S.

Scheibler’s funeral in October drew more than 1,000 people. His friends and family said that’s a testament to the effect he had on people. People just wanted to be around him.

“He was always smiling,” his mother said.