Young hoopsters having a blast

For three years, Moffat County High School junior Andrew Magas has helped coach a group of kindergarten, first- and second-graders in the Craig Parks and Recreation Basketball League.

He has seen improvement every week.

"We used to have to remind them which way to go on the court," he said.

"Now they're working on passing and shooting."

A packed house at Sunset Elementary School was the home of sport not in its highest but at least in its purest form Thursday night.

"It's great, because everybody is here to have fun," Magas said. "We don't keep score, and the parents cheer for everybody.

"There are not titles being fought for here."

The girls on the blue-clad Do--l--phins and the yellow-clad Superstars unanimously and loudly said "Yes" when they were asked whether they were having fun.

"The passing is what I like the best," first-grader Morgan Harris said.

"I like shooting," second-grader Katelan Peroulis said.

The K-2 league is one of the most popular that the Parks and Recreation Department organizes.

Director Pam Maneotis said that during the one year it wasn't offered she never heard the end of it.

"We didn't think there was that much interest," she said.

"But we found out in a hurry that there was."

This year, as many as 120 boys and girls are in the league that takes place Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Obviously, at their age, the most basic fundamentals are the focus.

"Our coach tells us to dribble the ball and not run with it," kindergartner Alex Hamilton said.

"We're also supposed to pass to our teammates," second-grader Lizabeth Schmedeke said.

"(We pass it) so everybody gets a turn to shoot," Peroulis said right after Schmedeke finished.

Referees are at each game, but the fouls and calls are loosely interpreted.

The players are allowed to pick up the ball and move a couple of steps as long as they aren't running across the entire court.

Double dribbling also is allowed.

Like Magas said, the main goal is to allow young athletes to have fun.

From the sounds of things, it's working.

"It's not about winning," first-grader Andrea Maneotis said.

"(That's why) you pass to your teammates," second-grader Aub-rey Campbell said, making the point that it's important to get everyone involved.

Almost all of the players said that they liked to watch basketball either on television or at the high school and that they want to play when they're older.

"We all can be superstars," Harris said.

They are right.

To the parents and coaches, they already are.

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