By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO March 15, 2005 The Village of Monticello Youth Basketball Program wrapped up its 2005 season this past Saturday.
For the past 10 weeks, dozens of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from the Monticello Central School District gathered each Saturday morning at the Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School to learn more about the game of basketball.
We did a lot of fundamentals, said Betsy Conaty, who is the Director of the Village of Monticello Recreation Department and served as one of the programs coaches. The kids learned about dribbling, chest passes, bounce passes and crouching down into defensive position.
On Saturday morning, the boys and girls displayed the skills they had learned over the past two months in a full-court game. Two teams of 10 players each lined up on opposite sides of the gymnasium and the players then counted to 10, so each player would represent a number from 1 to 10. When program coach Mike Barnofsky, who was serving as the referee for the contest, called out a number combination, for instance 1-2-3, those players would sprint to center court to gain control of the basketball. Guided by coaches Conaty and Shabanni Davis, the teams would try to score a basket.
As soon as someone made a shot, those players walked back to their respective teams. Barnofsky then called out another number combination and a new group of youngsters took the floor. At times the game was a traditional five-on-five contest, while on other occasions it was two-on-two or three-on-three.
Judging by the expressions on their young faces, the players were definitely having fun.
The coaches were enjoying themselves, too.
I wish we had this program when I was their age, said Davis, a 1993 Monticello High School graduate who played four years of varsity basketball under the tutelage of coach Dick ONeill.
Davis, whose daughter Deija participated in the program, really liked what he saw.
This is a great program, it teaches them the fundamentals of the game, he said.
In addition to Mike Barnofsky, Conaty and Shabanni Davis, Reed Barnofsky, who is Mikes son, and Dave Andrews volunteered their time to coach the youngsters.
Its been very successful and very fun, Conaty said. These kids had fun and really improved over the past few weeks. On the first day, some of them had problems with dribbling and now they can dribble with their left hand [if they are right-handed].
At the end of Saturdays game, Mike Barnofsky and Conaty presented awards to the boys and girls sitting on the court before them. Each participant received a Junior NBA/Junior WNBA certificate and folder, which contained a calendar featuring pictures and words of advice from NBA and WNBA players. In addition, each youngster received a basketball trophy with their name engraved on it.
The boys and girls who participated in the Village of Monticello Youth Basketball Program included: Mistah Alli, Jonathan Andrews, Daniel Bediako, Shikuan Carr-Sample, Jesse Conklin, Deija Davis, Jocarr Friejo, Manriel Grant, Jason Gonzalez, Serina Hughes, Walter Hurtado, Jahrel Lewis, Elias Lugardo, Jesus Mangual, Kariem McCline Jr., Anthony Morelli, Jeremy Pineda, Maklin Pineda, Malcolm Pinto, Hector Ramos, A.J. Rodriguez, Angel Sanchez, Latise Sanders, Brittany Stein, Tatiana Thompson, Trevor Tompkins and Talon Watson.