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Kids learn hoops from ‘A’ to ‘Z’

LA CRESCENTA — In a designed 20-second shooting drill, Henry Alvarez worked diligently. His hand-and-eye coordination didn’t desert him in the process.

With a basketball planted on each side of the key inside the Crescenta Valley High gymnasium, Alvarez raced toward each ball, scooped it up and made all 10 shots he took in the allotted time. The performance drew plenty of attention and Alvarez, 11, worked up a sweat before being greeted by his fellow participants at Coach Z’s Basketball Camp.

“You just pick the ball up, shoot and hope it goes in,” said Alvarez, one of 75 campers who showed up at the sixth annual week-long event that will conclude today. “Don’t look at the ball going in the net and keep your focus.

“That’s the point of the drill. It’s a hard drill because you are doing things under pressure.”


The camp, spearheaded by Crescenta Valley boys’ basketball Coach Shawn Zargarian, is geared for those 6-13.

During the morning portion of the camp, the participants rotated between stations for rebounding, dribbling and other assorted drills. In the afternoon, scrimmages were held, in addition to receiving instruction from guest speakers. Among those included were former Crescenta Valley boys’ Coach John Goffredo, Glendale Community College assistant men’s basketball Coach Vigen Jilizian and former players Eric Strangis, who’s now playing at USC, and Matt Oliver.

Zargarian, whose team finished 20-8 and 12-2 in the Pacific League before advancing to the playoffs last season, said the point of the camp is to leave the participants well-rounded and able to carry over the things they learned to their respective youth basketball leagues and possibly beyond that.

“The No. 1 thing is for them to have fun and have a good time,” said Zargarian, a former Crescenta Valley player. “We want to make it a good experience, so they learn the game of basketball.


“It’s great if they can take something away from the camp. For the younger [participants], it’s about learning one fundamental. For the older guys, it’s about taking away multiple and applying it to the different aspects of the game.”

For Alexa Arejian, 12, there was extra incentive being in attendance.

Arejian, an eighth grader at Chamlian Armenian School in Glendale, said she didn’t feel out of place being the lone female participant.

“Actually, it helps being the only girl,” Arejian said after finishing a shooting drill. “I get to practice against the guys and I want that to make me a better player when I go up against advanced players.

“I also want to get more experience. My younger brother came to the camp last year and he said it’s fun and you learn a lot.”

The camp also brought back its share of returners, including Trey Ballard. Ballard, 12, attended the camp last year.

Ballard, a La Crescenta resident who competes in the Crescenta Valley Youth League, said he’s attended the camp with the purpose of possibly achieving a goal — playing for the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team.

“I want to play for Coach Zargarian someday,” Ballard said. “I know that I have to work on a lot of things for me to get there, like working on defense.


“Defense is the most important thing because you can win a lot of games doing that.”