Volume 16, Number 29 | December 16-22, 2003


B-ballers honing skills before the season

By Ashley Winchester

Downtown Express photos by Elisabeth Robert
Joselyn Wright, 8, practiced her dribbling while Cora Frederick, 8, worked on defense last week at P.S. 234.

Basketball season is back again as the Manhattan Youth Downtown Basketball League’s practice schedule is in full progress. Although teams are not created until January, players have been developing skills and learning the game since November 10. In order to be placed on a team, players must attend at least three skill-building practices in November and December.

“We do drills for the first two months, then separate the kids into equal teams and schedule games,” Manhattan Youth basketball coach Lamont Williams said. “Interest builds up every week, and we generally have about 200 to 220 kids in the program.”

Second grader Molly Waterman joined practices for the first time last week. Although one of the latecomers to the program, Waterman has quickly taken to the game.

“My daughter came home saying, ‘I know how to do a chest pass, I know how to do a layup’ after her first practice last week,” Molly’s mother, Stephanie Waterman, said. “She’s really excited about basketball.”

About 12 second and third graders attended Williams’ Tuesday night clinic at P.S. 234, although generally 20-30 players show up after the holidays. Practices are divided into ten minutes of free time where players can practice what they learned last week, followed by structured shooting and defensive drills. Williams, who has been running the Downtown Basketball League for the past 12 years, gives each player equal attention as he works on building ball handling skill and teamwork. After each successful shot, Williams high-fives as the players cheer on their teammates’ efforts.

“The boys are more competitive and think they know it all already,” Williams said. “The girls are more patient but I’ve had some that giggle the whole time. They’re all having a lot of fun.”

The Downtown Basketball League practices take place from 6:15-7:30 weeknights at P.S. 234, P.S./I.S. 89, and Stuyvesant High School. Practice days run according to age. Boys and girls from 2nd grade to 8th are eligible. A registration form and practice schedule for the Downtown Basketball League is available through Manhattan Youth’s Web site at www.manhattanyouth.org. Parents interested coaching may e-mail alex@manhattanyouth.org for more information.



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