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Summer basketball hits court

June 16, 2001|By TIM YANNI, Sports Writer

You wouldn't say the Imperial Valley summer is a great time for heavy outdoor workouts.

That's why local basketball teams use the comforts of their air-conditioned gymnasiums to train and play summer exhibition games.

A tournament staged in Brawley Union High's gym Saturday featured Indio, Central, Brawley, Calexico and Calipatria high schools.

Said Brawley assistant coach Rahsahn Overton of such tournaments: "It brings together the Valley's basketball competitors" and allows them to keep playing the sport during the "off-season."

Overton, a Brawley coach for six years, said coaches are greatly helped by summer tournaments, which allow them to see what areas they need to work on with their teams.

"It's an opportunity to see who's coming in and can carry us through next season," Overton said. "The competition has been great and the teams have been well-mannered. It's good to have this turnout."

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Overton said his passion for basketball keeps him involved.

"I love the game," he said. "I like helping these young athletes reach their potential."

Brawley head coach Phil Grant said he wants to get as much practice for his team as possible before the season begins.

He added unlike other sports such as football, the CIF allows basketball coaches and players to work together year-round to improve their skills.

"It's a nice way to start the summer," Grant said of the tournament. "The kids get to work on their skills and teams get to work on who they are."

He said the only way Imperial Valley teams can compete with those from other areas is to keep up with what those teams do in off-season training.

"In today's world, people are playing all year long," he said.

"If our kids are going to compete, they need to play as many summer games as possible," the 12th-year Wildcat coach said.

He added that teams, individual players and even officials participating in summer activities get the workouts they need to keep from getting rusty.

Grant said in a tournament like Saturday's, he likes to see his team and players improve more than anything else. Winning is secondary.

He added an advantage of off-season play is players compete against opponents who are peers, both in age and in skill level.

Kevin McFadden, head coach at Central Union High, said he likes the opportunities of off-season play.

"I think it gives the guys a chance to play as a team," McFadden said, adding it helps players earn spots on the team.

"I try to get my guys to play as much as possible," he said.

McFadden said the Spartans and other local teams have a summer exhibition schedule that will feature teams from around the Imperial Valley league and elsewhere. He added his team will play each team on its schedule twice, once at home and once on the road.

"I think they get a sense of camaraderie," McFadden said of his players. "They also get a chance to see who the other players in the Valley are."

He said although the primary purpose of summer basketball is improvement, winning is still important.

"We always play to win," McFadden said. "If we're going to step out on the court, we want to win. But we also want to give everybody a chance to play."

McFadden added tournaments are good for teams because coaches get a chance to get to know each other in a way they wouldn't during the regular season, due to hectic schedules.

Grant said although it is not the first time the summer tournament has been staged, it is the first time it's been back after a several year lay-off.

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