KARE 11's Lou Raguse and Fox 9's Paul Blume are rivals, desperate to scoop each other in the courtroom or at a crime scene. But this past year, you could find the two competitors huddled together during breaks in the field, bonding over their love of basketball and their 10-year-old daughters.

This season, the two reporters helped lead the Tonka Crushers to a West Metro Recreational League championship, one they celebrated last weekend over pizza and karaoke at a coach's home in Minnetonka. After the nine elementary school players finished playing in the yard, they gathered for an awards ceremony and clip reel featuring Violet Raguse trash talking an opponent and Beatrice Blume heaving a winning shot.

"You guys, I'm going to cry," said one parent in the crowded living room. "Too many emotions."

None of these highlights will air on ESPN. Recreation-league ball is entry-level competition; one of the Crushers' playoff games ended in a 6-3 score. But this isn't a story about potential pros. It's about dads and daughters spending quality time together — and loving every minute of it.

When Violet had to turn in a St. Patrick's Day report on why she's lucky, she wrote all about how her dad was her coach.

"We're more than just family," she said, sitting on a couch while teammates popped in and out to check up on her. "It feels like a friendship."

Team MVP Beatrice, responsible for 121 of the 284 points the Crushers racked up this season, said sports has brought her closer to her dad.

"Girls and moms will often have shopping or something," she said. "Daughters and dads have to find something, too. When you do, it's really fun."

If their fathers are the girls' biggest inspiration, then Caitlin Clark is a close second.

Both families were at Target Center in March to watch the former Iowa Hawkeyes superstar in the Big Ten Championship. In an effort to imitate her hero, Beatrice started launching three-point shots during games, much to the chagrin of Dad, who prefers she master easier shots first.

"At first I was like, 'I bet I'm better than her,'" said Violet, who wore a Clark T-shirt to the awards party. "Then after I watched one game, I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. I have to keep watching.'"

Making time for basketball isn't easy for Blume or Raguse, two of the busiest TV reporters in the market. Raguse, the head coach, sometimes had to slip back into a suit after Thursday night practices so he could broadcast live for the 10 p.m. news.

Blume, the team's statistician, finds a way to make it to almost all of Beatrice's basketball and soccer games.

"It can be tricky, but you carve out the time," he said. "If you had told me 10 years ago I'd be watching the WNBA draft with my daughter, I'd have said, 'No way.'"

But the sacrifices have paid off. Blume's wife, Jessica, said he was near tears when the Crushers won their second title in a row in February. She hadn't seen him that emotional since their wedding day.

For the Raguse family, basketball helped Violet come out of her shell, one that hardened during the pandemic.

"We've just seen her confidence grow," mom Emily Raguse said.

The Raguses and Blumes may soon be parting ways. Beatrice will probably play in a more competitive league when the West Metro rec-ball season starts up again in November. But these families have racked up enough memories to last a lifetime.

"We talk about Caitlin inspiring a new generation. They're living it," Lou Raguse said. "There's no doubt these girls will continue to achieve great things. But this was a special year."