It’s time for summer hoops |

It’s time for summer hoops

by Chuck Smock

Douglas County basketball players and fans have seen the level of play increase dramatically on local courts in recent years.

And it’s not a coincidence.

Thanks, in part, to the efforts of coaches like Andy Hughes, Werner Christen and Aubrey McCreary, local hoops players are no longer limited to a few months of basketball during the winter.

The three men are putting the finishing touches on their sixth annual Tiger “High Intensity” Basketball Camp this weekend at Douglas High. Nearly 200 players attended the two sessions of the camp.

Players 13 to 17 years old attended the camp Monday through Thursday, while the 8- to -12-year-olds took to the courts Friday and will continue their camp through Sunday. The camp for younger players drew 120 participants, while 75 players attended the first session.

The morning sessions of each camp were devoted to clinics that focused on running the fast break, ball-handling skills and defensive techniques. The afternoon sessions featured full-speed, five-on-five scrimmages that allowed the players to work on what they learned in the morning clinics.

McCreary coaches at basketball camps throughout the West. He said the objectives of the clinics at the Tiger camps are simple.

“Basically, we want to create enjoyment for the game of basketball and teach the kids some basic fundamentals they can build upon,” said McCreary, who teaches alternative education and advanced basketball at Douglas High.

Hughes teaches advanced basketball with McCreary as well as science at Douglas High.

“I’ve been around clinics all my life and Aubrey is one of the most motivating clinicians in the business,” Hughes said. “For the kids to get that kind of clinic work is great.”

The summer camp is one part of a plan designed to increase interest in basketball throughout the county, according to Christen, the girl’s varsity basketball coach at Douglas High.

“This is so valuable,” Christen said Wednesday afternoon, during a break in a scrimmage featuring several players who likely will make his varsity squad next season. “The level of play is unbelievable. The first year of the camp, the boys were at the same level the girls are now.

“The girls’ program has improved tremendously.”

Christen was talking about more than dribbling, passing and shooting.

“We also run a youth league during the (high school) season and our players coach the kids’ teams,” Werner said. “The little kids really like it and the girls in our program genuinely look forward to coaching – even on Saturday mornings when we’ve played Friday night games in Elko. They love the teaching and coaching.”

Christen increases his players’ contact with the youngsters by hosting Youth League Nights at the varsity basketball games. Youths who wear their basketball jerseys to selected high school games get in free.

“It’s all part of building the program,” Christen said.

The proceeds from the Tiger camps are used to help pay for the Douglas High boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams to travel to play in tournaments as far away as Las Vegas and San Diego. These tournaments allow the Tigers to test themselves against some of the best teams in the West.

For the last four years, the summer camps have raised between $4,000 and $5,000 for the Tigers basketball programs, Hughes said.

Natalie Stratton, who will be a junior at Douglas High this fall, attended her fourth Tiger Basketball Camp earlier this week.

“It’s fun, but we learn at the same time,” said Stratton, who earned the girl’s “High Intensity” award from coaches at the camp. “(The camp) is important because if you’re not playing basketball during the summer you can’t expect to pick up the ball at the beginning of the season and be as good as you were at the end of the last season.”

Like the camp directors, Stratton has seen the quality of play improve each year at the Tiger camps.

“It seems like every year it gets better and everybody comes in with more enthusiasm,” Stratton said.

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