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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

ADULT VOLUNTEERS MONIQUKA Corley, left, Carl Silverstein, Michael Barnofsky, Betsy Conaty and Jason Corley, right, pose for a photo with several of the sixth-graders who participated in the Monticello PBA Youth Basketball League.

Monti Youngsters Enjoy Basketball League

By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO — March 7, 2003 – The Monticello Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Youth Basketball League wrapped up another successful season Monday night.
With several parents and older siblings looking on, the youngsters put on a show on the court. They displayed the dribbling, passing and shooting skills they had learned during the six-week program.
About 40 kids participated in the sixth-grade division of the league, which is coordinated by the Monticello PBA and the Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department. This was the sixth year for the sixth-grade program, which was held at the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School.
“Their skills have really improved since the first week,” said Betsy Conaty, who is the Director of the Monticello Parks and Rec Department. “There’s some good basketball being played out there tonight.”
“The difference is more than night and day,” said Michael Barnofsky, one of several adult volunteers who helped coordinate the program. “Their court awareness tonight was amazing.”
Following the final games, each of the participating youngsters received a certificate of achievement and a junior NBA fun packet that contained a poster of NBA and WNBA players and a calendar filled with information about basketball rules and regulations. Conaty noted that this was the first year the Monticello league joined the junior NBA, a program that promotes basketball and sportsmanship skills to youngsters across the nation.
While learning positive skills such as sportsmanship are an important part of the league, having fun is just as integral to its success.
Everett Bridgeforth, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, was one of the children in the program.
“I enjoy playing basketball,” Bridgeforth said.
When asked what he enjoyed most, he quickly answered “shooting and dribbling.”
For the first time, the league had a fourth and fifth-grade division this winter. Conaty noted that the response was excellent, as 80 kids showed up the first night of the league.
Like the slightly older players, the fourth and fifth-graders also received junior NBA packets following their games in the Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School gymnasium.
“They seem to be having fun out there,” said adult volunteer Steve Kapito during a break between games. “And I think they’ve all learned something about the game of basketball.”
Among those playing in the fourth and fifth-grade division were Anthony Jernigan and Patrick Ripa.
“I love playing basketball,” 11-year-old Jernigan said. “And I got to be on the same team as my best friend Stefon [McGinnis].”
Asked what else he enjoyed about the league, Jernigan had a simple response.
“I just learned how to play basketball better,” he said.
Ripa said he liked the “dribbling and shooting.”
“I like coming here on Monday nights and wasting energy,” the nine-year-old added.
In addition to the two leagues, the Monticello PBA and Parks and Rec. Department have also conducted a basketball clinic on Saturdays for third, fourth and fifth-graders. The youngsters complete dribbling, passing and shooting drills at the clinics.
“It’s been excellent,” Barnofsky said.

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