Youth hit the court for recreational basketball

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It’s primarily to teach the basics of the game, and the gymnasiums on the campuses of Escalon High School and El Portal Middle School are bustling with activity on Saturdays.

The Escalon Recreation Department’s youth basketball program sees the Kindergarten/Freshman division dress up on Saturdays in the old EHS gymnasium from 8:15 a.m. to approximately 10:30 a.m., followed by the second/third year teams taking the pitch from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. approximately

At El Portal, the fourth through sixth grade divisions play from approximately 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Young hoops play during the week.

Last Saturday, the second of the six-week hoops program, participants in the second and third year program enjoyed their brief teaching clinic, followed by a game of two 15-minute halves.

Although no official score is kept, there is a lot of cheering when baskets are made or players make a solid play. At younger levels, players sometimes forget to dribble, but coaches stand aside to offer instruction and support.

“We have 279 registrants,” said Escalon Recreation staff member Bridge Gaines. “We had 254 in 2020; we finished just before closing.

After a hiatus in 2021, the program has come back strong.

Volunteer Michelle Sewell said she likes to help.

“It’s just fun to watch them improve,” she said of her work with the second and third graders. “We had a 20-minute training before and then the game.”

The old gymnasium is split, with two courts available and the lower panels brought in.

Coach Lindsay Harris had his team, Western Steel Erectors, playing a solid game against the team at Cavanaugh Paving and Grading, Inc.

“I love being involved with children; I used to coach football, now it’s basketball,” Harris said.

Numerous mobile phones were used to capture video of the races on the field on Saturday and although the competition was often fierce, all the teams lined up to shake hands after the competitions.

In addition to hula hoops for youngsters, Gaines said other activities are looming for locals in terms of recreation.

“Baseball registration is closed and we will be drafting and forming teams soon,” she said. “Karate happens at the community center on Mondays and Wednesdays; the next class starts January 31 for four weeks. The next dog training course will take place on February 26; this course is usually offered every five weeks.

For more information on karate classes, call 209-691-7372. Classes are open to ages 10 to adult, with beginner and intermediate/advanced sessions.

Bone-A-Fide dog training will take place Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. in the city’s Main Street park. Registration is available on the recreation page at www.cityofescalon.org.

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