Local youngsters participate in annual basketball clinic
With more than 55 boys and girls attending last week's Tonganoxie Youth Basketball Camp, the Tonganoxie High School gymnasium had one of its biggest groups for this year's clinic.
Campers from grades fourth through eighth participated in the clinic, which finished Friday.
"We had a really, really good group," THS boys basketball coach David Walker said. "They listened well."
Most of this year's drills focuses on offense, Walker said. From scrimmages to contests for lay-ups and timed shooting, campers spent considerable time working on offense.
Kate Claypool, who is 9, clearly had a favorite aspect of camp.
"Shooting!" Kate said with an excited grin as her eyes opened wide.
Kate, who was participating in her first basketball clinic last week, explained why she was interested in the camp.
"Because I like basketball and it will look good on my permanent record," Katie said.
Evan Stilgenbauer, who also is 9, has participated in other camps, but this was his first in Tonganoxie.
Evan said he also liked shooting drills. He was especially eager to learn how to square up to the basket and shoot the ball.
But he wasn't enrolled in the camp just to learn about basketball.
"You get to meet new people," Evan said.
This year's camp had several coaches and players instructing campers.
Coaches besides Walker included Matt Bond, assistant Tonganoxie High boys basketball coach, and Sue Walker, an assistant on last year's THS girls squad that finished fourth at state. Athletics director Brandon Parker also was an instructor, as was former player Bryan Gurss. Heather Deaver, a senior on last spring's state team, instructed the youth, as did current players Ali and Zack Pistora.
On Friday, the camp concluded with announcements of contest winners. In the layup competition, Dane Erickson and Ben Williams were the top scorers in sixth through eighth grades. Mark Murphy and Jo Kissinger won titles in fifth grade for the boys and girls respectively. And among fourth-graders, Wyatt Weeks won the boys lay-up competition, while Katelyn Waldeier won on the girls side.
More certificates were given out in the "hot shot" category. In that drill, campers had 30 seconds to shoot from different spots on the floor.
Dane Erickson, Tanner Hale and Kelsey Wagner were top scores in sixth through eighth grades, while John Lean and Jo Kissinger won the hot shot contest for fifth-graders.
And in fourth grade, Tyler Wehmyer and Rachel Gumm scored the most points.
Before the campers left the gymnasium Friday afternoon, each received a candy bar and a Gatorade. Campers also took home basketballs they used during the camp. The basketballs, multi-colored with a Chieftain head on each one, were donated by First State Bank.
"Having First State Bank helping us out makes a big difference," Walker said.
Walker noted it was fun to watch young basketball players who might be playing on the high school level in a few years.
"There were a lot of kids in there that had some good basketball skills," Walker said. "Hopefully there are exciting times ahead of us, both for boys and girls teams."