By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO March 25, 2005 A lot of the hoopsters werent much bigger than the basket, but they had a blast.
Back in January, Betsy Conaty, who is the Director of the Monticello Parks and Recreation Department, and a cadre of dedicated volunteer coaches and staff, began teaching local fifth and sixth graders the fundamentals of basketball during a series of Saturday morning clinics. Those sessions were sponsored by the Monticello Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the Jr.NBA, which is a national program sponsored by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) to teach boys and girls about the sport.
On Monday night, it was crunch time as the top teams squared off in a semifinal match, immediately followed by the championship game.
In the semifinal, the Green Team defeated the Maroon Team by a final score of 24 to 12.
When it came time for the championship game, the Royal Blue Team took to the court on a bye, and edged the Green Team, 44-38.
The kids learn the fundamentals, and they love playing basketball, Conaty said. We cant get them off the floor.
She said at the beginning of the program, a lot of the kids dont know where the out-of-bounds lines are, much less the difference between pushing up a three [-point shot] or going up for a layup.
But in the course of learning the fundamentals, they quickly realize that what they see on TV isnt as easy as it looks. For example, there are five other guys out there on the court figuring out ways to keep you away from the bucket.
They really look forward to it, said Conaty. We divided the teams up by ability, and they learned teamwork and how to work together.
The members of Team A (Royal Blue) included Jesse Kapito, Jason Arroyave, Joseph Todora, Talon Watson, Angel Sanchez, Jack Drapkin, Christopher Santiago-Ramos, Brian Brown and Hasaan Smith.
The members of Team F (Green) were Kyle Ruperd, Marcus Penn, Joseph Rittacco, Joshua Etkin, Edwin Jones, Sean Reuss, Adrian Derello, Lorenzo Crandell and Earl Allen.
The members of Team D (Maroon) included Blake Evans, Dominique Person, Casey McManus, Dontae Halyard, Joshua Hernandez, Nicholas Rodriguez, Daniel Paulino, Rodney Holman and Tom OConner Jr.
The members of Team B were Austin Billig, Ken Sanders, Lance Tate Jr., Connor Briggs, Adrian Trinidad, Ben Kapito, Damian Fields, Manriel Grant and Youanne Fields.
The members of Team C included Shammell Moore, Brian Tedaldi, Tyler Solomon, Jamel Threatt, Jonathan Avila, Michael Gregory, Robert Riley, Damon Lopez, Joseph Diaz and Juan Pena.
The members of Team E were D.J. Perkins, William Cargill, Robert LoCasio, Franky Diaz, Brian Arroyave, Conal McCague, Richard Sorto and Richard Worell.