Shooting Stars Shine At WHS Hoops Camps

By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor

Summer came in with a swish at Willard High School, as the Crimson Flashes boys and girls basketball programs each hosted their annual four-day youth basketball camps for players in Grades 3-8 at the Robert L. Haas Gymnasium.

The boys camp, which ran June 3-6 and was directed by Flashes varsity Head Coach Chris Long, his staff and high school players, was split into multiple daily sessions, with Grades 3-5 featured in the morning and Grades 6-8 in the afternoon. The girls carried a similar format, as Head Coach Jon Dawson and his staff and current players worked with Grades 3-6 in the morning session and Grades 7-8 in the afternoon, June 9-12.

Both fundamental, skill-based camps incorporated numerous drills, games and competitions to help the campers, whether experienced or relatively new to the sport, be able to develop, sharpen and improve their skills in all facets of the game.

The camps also provided the young participants an opportunity to interact on a one-to-one basis with a number of the high school players who were once in the same position of working their way up through the WHS basketball camps. The campers were able to have the current Willard players as team coaches, instructors and even referees for competitions.

While both the Willard Flashes and Lady Flashes camps put their primary focus of their efforts on each camper's improvement throughout the course of the week, both Coach Long and Coach Dawson presented numerous awards for high achievement amongst the many contests and events featured at the camps.

In the boys' camp, Caleb Picklesimer emerged with the Outstanding Camper Award for Grades 3-5, while Jerett Sowers held the same honors for Grades 6-8. Picklesimer was the winner of the Flashes Shooting competition and he was also a finalist in the X-Out Lay-up contest, the One-on-One contest, Musical Chairs, Dribble Tag and Free Throw Shooting.

Sowers won the Grades 6-8 X-Out Lay-up contest and also won the Free Throw contest and Dribble Tag events.

Joining Picklesimer and Sowers in the special award category were Ryan Fox for the third through fifth graders and Jacob Barnett in the older kids' camp. Both campers were presented with the Coaches Awards, for their all-around effort, ability to be coached, willingness to try and their ability to work within a team frame, amongst a number of areas.

In the morning session, Max Dawson was a multiple contest winner, taking first in both the Dribble Tag and Free Throw contests. Landon Newland won the X-Out Lay-up title, while the 1-on-1 championship went to Casey Sallee. Dylan Thompson was the Musical Chairs champ and joined Sallee, Levi Brooks, Newland, Owen Feichtner, Trey Paxton, Jordan Beggs, Caden Barnett and Grant Adams on the winning 5-on-5 team.

Caden Flores (Flashes Shooting), Justin Gillmor (1-on-1) and Ethan Slone (Musical Chairs) joined Sowers as Grades 6-8 contest winners. Slone, Will Lindenberger, Cooper Wiers, Blake Vanderpool, Joan Ruiz-Rosario, Myles Pinkston and Jacob Barnett all comprised the winning 5-on-5 team.

While the awards may have differed in the Lady Flashes' camp, the competition was just as intense. Syana Sivongsak emerged with quite a haul in the 3-4 Grade camp, as she won the Free Throw Championship, the Hot Shot competition, the Dribble Tag contest and the Knock-Out match-up.

Tristan Buurma won a pair of contests in the 5-6 Grade camp, claiming first in the Hot Shot event and also in the Knock-Out contest. Other winners in the camp included Grace Hall (Free Throws) and Kalli Sowers (Dribble Tag).

Coaches Awards for Grades 3-4 were presented to Emily Shepherd and to Makayla Westbrook, while the 5-6 Grade Coaches Awards went to Erin Stevens and Grace Rothhaar.

Hustle Awards were earned by Emily Danhoff for Grades 3-4 and Ashley Hamons in the 5-6 Grade camp.

Emily Blanton had a break-out camp amongst the seventh and eighth graders, as she won the Free Throw, Dribble Tag and Knock-Out competitions. Addie Slone won the Hot Shot and the 1-on-1 championship, while three more `girls (Becca Slone, Chloe Weaver and Addison Paxton) received the Most Improved Camper awards.

Additional award winners for Grades 7-8 included Emma Moll, who earned one of four separate Coaches Awards, Becca Slone (Coaches Award), Addison Paxton (Coaches Award), Chloe Wiers (Coaches Award) and Haylie Hamons (Hustle Award).

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