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Basketball Camp Draws Crowd To Mustang Gym
Oakdale varsity player Nick McElmurry gathers his team in a huddle before they take the floor for their Saturday morning game, giving some last minute instruction.

From the youngest third and fourth grade participants to junior high school players, future Mustangs are being put through their paces every week on the hardwood.

A basketball camp, with a couple of weeks of instructional clinics followed by several weeks of games, is bringing dozens of youngsters to the high school gym each Saturday.

“We have four different divisions, we have third and fourth grade boys, fifth and sixth grade boys, third through sixth grade girls, and the seventh and eighth grade boys and girls,” explained Oakdale varsity boys basketball coach and camp director Jeremy Fields.

With skills learned in the clinic, the young hoopsters now come in at their assigned times on Saturday for a 30-minute practice session and then a game, four 10-minute quarters with a stoppage every five minutes for rotating players in and out.

“The high school students are their coaches,” Fields said, with boys basketball players coaching the boys, girls basketball players coaching the girls.

Student athletes also help run the overall program, the coach added.

“We have over 150 kids and this is our third year,” Fields explained. “Basically they learned the fundamentals, did drills in two clinics, then we have the games.”

The eight-week program includes a special tournament for its final Saturday, with fast paced games, a scoring system and a prize for the winning team. There also are team pictures, said Fields.

“We try to make it as fun as possible,” he said.

All the coaches are varsity players, with both JV and varsity serving as referees and the freshmen keeping score, running the clock and helping set up the gym. Scoreboards are used but only for the clock, the score is kept in a book and announced at the end of each game.

Fields said the final day of the program will be Feb. 15, so there is a lot of basketball to play between now and then … and a lot of time for youngsters to improve their skills and love for the game.