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Basketball: Green Terror hoops camp about fundamentals, fun

Basketball: Green Terror hoops camp about fundamentals, fun
Terror basketball player Tim Stewart dunks in front of campers during Green Terror Basketball Camp at McDaniel College in Westminster Monday, June 20, 2016. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Kevin Curley held the attention of more than 120 kids while explaining a drill that was taking place on the Gill Center basketball court.

McDaniel College's men's coach had seven of his players performing exercises while the campers, who ranged in age from 7-17, sat and stood along the sideline. They watched and, in theory, learned how to dribble down the lane and withstand defensive pressure while trying to make a layup.

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It didn't take long, though, to understand why the campers were really there.

"You want to see some dunks?" Curley asked the group, which let out a collective cheer in the affirmative.

Monday marked the first day of this week's Green Terror Basketball Camp, which runs through Friday. And it only took a few hours for the campers to let loose.

They roared when Terror players Tim Stewart and Austin Cannon each performed slam dunks. They rooted for Josh McWilliams to hit layups and 3-point shots during a game called "Knockout," where players form a line and take turns trying to beat each other with made baskets.

Then they broke into smaller groups and had "Knockout" contests of their own, with winners earning prizes.

"Two things we talked about, learn something about basketball, and have fun," Curley said just after lunch time. "And then hopefully they'll continue to do it when they go home, and have a good time. A good experience, that's what we're hoping for."

Curley's annual camp has two summer sessions, with the second one set for Aug. 1-5. It's a chance for kids to sharpen their basketball skills in an entertaining environment, Curley said.

For some, like 14-year-old Jacob Conklin of Westminster, it's a tradition.

"I like that the players are the ones that actually coach it and help run it," said Conklin, who will attend Westminster High this fall. "And they still play, so it helps a lot more than just a coach trying to teach you."

Conklin has attended the McDaniel camp for five years, so he knows the routine. For others, it's a newer experience.

"I'm just trying to be a better basketball player," said Josh Matthews, 15, a homeschooled student who is headed to Carroll Christian this fall. "Hopefully I can make the varsity team."

Matthews, who said his family recently moved to Hampstead, won a "Knockout" round just after lunch Monday, then went first in the next group and was promptly eliminated.

He wasn't moping on the sideline, though. In fact, there weren't too many sad faces in the entire gym.

Curley said games on 5-on-5 were on the schedule, and campers spent most of Monday morning going through stations with the college players to work on fundamentals.

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Dribbling, passing, and shooting soon gave way to chanting the names of the Terror players during their impromptu dunk contest — Stewart may have gotten the biggest cheer when he flushed a dunk through the hoop after a bounce pass off the backboard.

Stewart enjoyed his share of dunks last season, when he helped McDaniel to 14-12 record and a spot in the Centennial Conference tournament. The first-team all-conference player averaged a team-best 15.6 points per game, and reached 1,000 career points in his senior season.

Stewart was able to help out with this year's camp, Curley said, because he's still a few credits away from graduating.

For younger campers, the goal is likely to absorb more knowledge about the game. Kids such as Conklin tend to have more finite goals in mind.

"I've learned how to shoot a lot better," said Conklin, whose older brother Joey was a junior guard for the Owls' varsity squad last season. "I mostly want to work on my left-handed layup and getting a lot better at defense."

Curley said he was pleased with this year's turnout — attendance numbers usually reach 100, he said — and hopes that the summer camps inspire the young players to improve their skills. And perhaps come back in the winter to watch a McDaniel game, remembering that summer camp coaches such Stewart, Cannon, and McWilliams played their college ball in Carroll County.

"It's great for our players," Curley said. "That's what kind of unique about it, is they're learning from college players, guys that have all been to camps like this."

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