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Prep teams get a jump on 2006-07 season

June 15, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

Even though school has ended, doors are still open for the gymrats who love basketball.

Until the finals on July 13th, the Mason Dixon Summer Basketball League will showcase eight schools at St. Maria Goretti High School, with four games played each Tuesday and Thursday.

For many of those who will don uniforms for their respective high school during the 2006-07 season, basketball is their top choice during the offseason, when there are many other activities to choose from.

Competing in the Mason Dixon this year are Goretti, Chambersburg, Greencastle-Antrim, Waynesboro, James Buchanan, Williamsport, Middletown and Frederick. In some cases, there are schools participating in other leagues, giving them games on four nights per week.

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"Playing basketball is a love of the game," said Goretti's Kevin Breslin, who will be a senior next fall. "It's for the unbridled joy of the game."

Like many of his colleagues, Breslin has made a choice to devote his free time to playing basketball. He also plays on Monday and Wednesday for the AAU Baltimore Stars and has made weekend tournament trips to New York, Pittsburgh and Ohio, and has one coming up in Las Vegas.

"It a summer-free type of game," Breslin said. "There's no pressure. You might do some things you wouldn't do in a (regular-season) game, but it help gives you confidence."

For Williamport's Will Taylor, playing summer basketball is a ritual that involves four nights as well.

"It's something I want to do," he said. "I'd rather do this than anything else and it helps keep me out of trouble."

Taylor has a focus on what he wants to work on as a followup to the commendable season he had last year for the Wildcats.

"My goal is to work on my post moves and my defense, said Taylor. "It's a lot of sweat, but it will be worth it when the season comes."

For some schools, it's a legal opportunity for coaches to be on the sidelines. For others, it's a chance to watch from the seats, depending what state a coach is in.

Coaches from Pennsylvania are allowed direct contact with their players, while those under the Maryland banner are forbidden to do so.

Keystone State coaches sympathize with their Maryland counterparts.

"The (Maryland) rule is a poor rule," said Greencastle coach Garen Gembe. "I don't know why they have it. The summer programs are about the kids and with their coaches it only makes the players better."

Williamsport, Middletown and Frederick are the three Mason Dixon schools hampered by the absurd rule.

"It hurts the kids," said Middletown coach Jon Jarrett. "As a coach, you can't help them get better. I don't know what the rationale is. It's almost like a kid asking, 'Coach, I want help working on this,' but it's almost like you have to turn your back on them."

Gembe said he uses the summer league to get his players to "learn situations. We'll run half court but there aren't any set offensive plays. You can see what a player can create on his own."

"The summer is a big part of the program because the winter season mirrors how well we did in the summer," said Gembe.

Chambersburg coach Shawn Shreffler has a little different viewpoint, not only in the Mason Dixon but also on Sunday and Monday evenings playing in a league in Harrisburg.

"It's a chance to get some playing experience," said Shreffler, "and we want to try to get them to play the game the right way."

Games consist of two 20-minute halves and the clock runs continuously except for free throws - the bonus comes in play after a team commits 10 personal fouls in each half - and for time outs. Games begin at 5:30 p.m.

The Mason Dixon is one of two leagues in the area. Hagerstown Community College hosts games each Monday and Wednesday, with Williamsport, Greencastle, Goretti, South Hagerstown, North Hagerstown, Smithsburg, Broadfording, Martinsburg, Hancock, Clear Spring, Hedgesville and Waynesboro participating.

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