Refining their skills on the hardcourt

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The dribbling exercise looked similar to a skier navigating a slalom course.

Both sidelines on the basketball court inside the Renaissance Academy gymnasium featured multiple-colored mini cones and Renaissance Academy Coach Sid Cooke put more than 50 participants through the exercise during the ninth annual Hoop Academy.

Many of the campers worked up a sweat while weaving their way through eight cones in under 10 seconds. Cooke had the athletes, ages 12-17, run the drill once again and walked across the court several times watching the campers complete their assignments.

"You can see the improvement in terms of court awareness and ball handling," said Cooke, who guided Renaissance Academy to a Harbor League championship last season and a trip to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA quarterfinals. "We put them through all kinds of drills and then we have scrimmages at the end to see what they learn and remember.

"We give you the drills and then you have to practice them. There's always something to learn."

Grant Arthur, 13, appeared to master the drill while working up a sweat. Arthur calmly navigated his way past each cone three separate times.

It was the kind of drill Arthur looked to work on throughout the camp, which began Monday and concluded Friday and featured participants from the San Gabriel Valley to the San Fernando Valley.

"I came in here to work on my all-around game, but I wanted to really work on driving to the basket with my dribbling," Arthur said. "That's the part I really need to work on.

"When you are being guarded, it's about finding ways to be able to change your direction. That can be hard, but that's why I'm here. I also want to work on my defense and rebounding."

Kayla Robles, an incoming freshman at Cantwell Sacred Heart in Montebello in the fall, attended the camp for several reasons. The guard, who said she'll be looking to earn a spot on the school's varsity team, also excelled with her dribbling skills.

"I want to get better with everything," Robles said. "I want to go to a good basketball college.

"I've had Sid work with me on my shooting. The scrimmages are great at the end of the day because you use everything you learned that day."

Cooke said about 20 campers attended the event when it began in 2003. The turnout has swelled each summer.

"You want to see them be good or great down the road," said Cooke, who then focused on screening and shooting drills in the next segment. "It's about timing and rhythm.

"They just have to pay attention and learn because then they will get better."

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