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At Brawley coach Phil Grant's basketball camp, kids learn about hoops and life.

June 20, 2002|By JONATHAN DALE, Staff Writer

Brawley — For kids who want to play basketball better, the Brawley Basketball Camp here at the Brawley Union High School gymnasium is the place to be.

Run by Brawley High varsity head basketball coach Phil Grant, the camp is aimed toward Imperial Valley kids who aspire to be better players.

The purpose of the camp is "to keep an interest in basketball," explains Grant. "We're mainly here to keep the fundamentals of basketball intact."

The camp, which is open to both boys and girls, offers assistance to youths of all ages in learning techniques that will become valuable to them when they get onto junior high and high school basketball teams, Grant said.

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Campers are divided into groups and dispatched to several skills stations within the gym that teach youngsters all sorts of fundamental drills, from pivots and defensive slides to crossover dribbling and jump shots.

An interesting aspect of the camp is the stations center on a topic also addressed by a different speaker each day. One such speaker Tuesday was former BUHS basketball player Scott Pace, who will be a sophomore basketball player for U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., this fall.

The camp contains a mix of techniques Grant learned while coaching in Texas basketball camps, Los Angeles Lakers camps and camps run by famed former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

Helping him this year is BUHS assistant basketball coach Rahsahn Overton, who played for Grant in high school. Overton, who went to California Baptist University in Riverside after transferring from the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, helps with the camp for one particular reason: "I wanted to come back to give a little to the community and to the man who helped me play basketball in college."

When asked what he enjoys the most out of this camp, Overton answered, "I enjoy the kids. I enjoy watching them grow mentally, physically, athletically and, most of all, spiritually."

The camp isn't just about basketball, either. It also has to do with life. As Overton explained, "We offer steps to success set up by John Wooden that have a mutual foundation in good morals and good values."

Also helping Grant with this year's camp are several current BUHS basketball players, who act as junior coaches for the campers. One such junior coach is Matt Hanks, who will be a sophomore at BUHS come fall.

Hanks explained a warm-up game called knockout that the campers play before their daily sessions: "Basically, there are campers in a line in front of the basket. The kids take turns shooting a ball. If a person makes it, they go to the back of the line and the next person shoots. If a person doesn't make it and the next person does, then the person who missed the shot is out of the game."

The winners of knockout receive free Brawley Basketball Camp T-shirts as prizes.

"I love basketball," says 9-year-old Eric Ibarra of Brawley. Ibarra, who is one of the 70 campers this week, said his favorite part of the camp is knockout.

Eight-year-old Andrea Seanez, also of Brawley, said, "Making baskets is really exciting!"

Seanez reported that she had been to eight basketball camps because she wants to learn how to play better basketball. Both Ibarra and Seanez plan on playing basketball one day for BUHS.

While most of the campers live in Brawley, the camp isn't restricted to Brawley residents.

"Anybody in the Valley is welcome to come," explained Grant. "We like to see everybody play basketball well in the Valley.

"Another thing with camps is we create friendships," said Grant. Campers from Calipatria and Imperial, or Calexico and Brawley, who wouldn't normally meet each other except in competition, can get acquainted at the camp.

For those who want to attend the Brawley Basketball Camp, Grant will be at the BUHS gym at 7:30 a.m. Monday to open registrations for next week. Next week's session will run from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily through June 28.

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