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Hitting the court

Andy Ouriel • Feb 8, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Several dozen children on a recent weekday attempted to emulate Tristan Thompson’s mid-range jumper and mimic Kyrie Irving’s ball-handling skills. The children realized perfecting these skills will help improve their own basketball abilities.

But these junior Cavs also want to impress the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers when both squads link up for a meet-and-greet practice session at Quicken Loans Arena in two months.

Look for more photos in Sunday's Sandusky Register

A new amateur-professional regional partnership played a key role in enticing more children than ever to register for a rejuvenated youth basketball league at the Sandusky Area YMCA.

About 120 boys and girls ages 3 to 13 signed up to practice and play games on a weekly basis in the Jr. Cavs program.    The number participating this year doubles how many played in 2013.

Fees range between $30 and $60, depending on age and whether a child belongs to the YMCA or not.

To make the NBA’s Cavaliers proud, YMCA personnel and volunteers assist children in teaching them valuable skills, such as passing, dribbling, pivoting, shooting and moving without the ball.

“We like to teach them the fundamentals” said Mike Seel, the local YMCA’s sports director. “We want them to be fundamentally sound before they go to junior high and high school”

The revitalized league delights many parents, including Sandusky resident Tim Boals.

“They have the best fundamental training of any basketball program in the area” Boals said.

Boals even noticed his son, 7-year-old Timothy, becoming more aggressive on the court, imitating his favorite player, Anderson Varejao.

Timothy is motivated to improve so he can show off his skills to Varejao and other NBA superstars during a pre-game skills clinic prior to a game between Cleveland and the Boston Celtics on April 12.

“The involvement with the Cavaliers was a major plus for this year,” Boals said. “The kids feel like they are part of the Cavaliers”

Sandusky resident Prince Hampton, who coaches and enrolled his three children into the league, appreciates the affiliation.

But he contends the program offers more incentives beyond meeting basketball players on their home court.

“You’re getting kids off of the street and giving them something to do,” Hampton said. “They’re learning the game of basketball, how to listen and to respect their elders”

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