|Written by George Werner|
|Wednesday, 29 January 2014 12:33|
A month before Mountain View Prep’s first girls basketball game in November, head coach Paul Ventura sat down with his players at the first practice and asked them what sports they had played.
“They’re all new to the game,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, most of them struggled with it. None of them had played any organized basketball before. I have a sixth-grader who played a little bit of city league, but nothing else.
“They listen well, so if you tell them this is where I want you to go and do, most of them can do it.”
After explaining how the fundamentals of basketball like rebounding and ball handling relate to sports such as soccer and martial arts, Ventura began drilling the girls on those fundamentals, as he has done every practice leading up to the Verde Valley Conference Tournament, beginning for the girls Friday, Jan. 31, at 2 p.m. at Mayer High School. The boys tournament plays at Beaver Creek School at the same time.
This is what Ventura and father Jimmy, who coaches the boys team, have faced in MVP’s inaugural season of competitive basketball — something the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District had not budgeted for but private fundraising has made happen.
“Hopefully, the school committee will give us the funds to continue next year,” Jimmy Ventura said. “After our first five kids, there is a dropoff, but I can see three of four with the potential to play high school ball if they keep working hard.”
Point guard Chris Bean and leading scorer Wesley Loveall gave Jimmy Ventura the slight experience edge, having played at Cottonwood Middle School, but after the three eighth-grade starters on the girls team — leading scorer Sydney Burns and fellow frontliners Jordan Barger and Jessica Epperson — two sixth-graders round out the lineup, one being a soccer player and the other all of four feet tall, Paul Ventura said.
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Jan. 29, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extral.
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