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Andy Dominguez hangs in the paint to take a shot against defenders Caleb Hicks and Nick Johnson. Photo by Jamie Shell

Originally published: 2012-08-01 10:09:44
Last modified: 2012-08-01 10:09:44

Big Cat Camp shares basketball fundamentals to area youths

Jamie Shell / (

Cranberry Middle School gymnasium was abuzz with activity throughout last week for the inaugural Big Cat Basketball Camp.
Approximately 60 fourth- to ninth-grade students participated in the weeklong camp that emphasized dribbling, defense and proper technique in shooting and rebounding the basketball.
Camp organizer and Cranberry Middle School boys basketball head coach Mike Shook created the camp to help kids become well-rounded players that will contribute to championships at the high school level.

"We're wanting to build state championships at the high school. The girls that are coming up now are awesome, and so are our younger aged girls," Shook said. "This is a building process as we want to try to keep them playing together."
The week of camp emphasized everything from basic dribbling drills to advanced ball handling, shooting and rebounding techniques.
"We started off every morning and afternoon session with a devotion. We then went into 20 minutes of dribbling drills, followed by a 50-minute shooting session," Shook explained. "During the shooting session, the girls took around 100 shots, as the boys took around 150 shots, since there were less boys at the camp."
Assisting Shook during the camp were a number of skilled athletes, including Mercedes Bentley, Ethan Buchanan, David Cook, Andy Gonzalez, Chad Guinn, Corie Peterson, Stephanie Pritchard, Samantha Shook and Alex Villanueva.
"From the point guard to the center positions, we had instructors working with the kids at any and all positions on the floor," Shook added. "I appreciate the counselors who helped out during the week and I want to thank CMS Principal Matthew Bentley for allowing us to hold the camp at the school."
During the course of the week, the instructors noticed players' ability to improve in executing drills, often due to taking the drills home that they learned at camp and further honing their craft.
"I've seen some of the girls who couldn't do the dribbling drills on Monday tell me the next day how they went home and worked on the drills. Some of our youngest girls in the camp are doing our rhythm drills as well," Shook said. "Dribbling and shooting both improved throughout the week. Our first two days were spent on individual drills, with our final two days set aside for team practice and drills."
Shook believes the camp will help players and teams at the high school, middle school and lower levels to improve skill sets.
"You have to teach kids fundamentals. At camp, the players are doing things for this week, but I have told them that we are teaching them drills they can practice at home with a basketball and a goal," Shook explained. "We encouraged the campers to put a basketball goal on their mirror and work to achieve it. It can be to be a good ball handler, a good shooter or rebounder. By doing so, they see that goal first thing in the morning reminding them to work toward that goal. I hope that being a state champion is the goal of every player."
With the success of the first camp, Shook hopes the camp will only grow in participants in the years to come.
"We'll definitely be holding the camp for years to come," Shook said. "This has been a great camp for all the kids in the county, regardless of what school a kid attends. Everybody has been nothing but positive about the camp and we plan to hold it every possible year forward."

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