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3-on-3 league making waves

  • Connor Sluder, right, shoots over the defense of Aden Santana in 3-on-3 basketball at Fisher Hill Elementary School, Thursday in Orange.  FOR THE RECORDER/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Micalyn Mailloux shoots near the rim in 3-on-3 basketball at Fisher Hill Elementary School, Thursday in Orange.  FOR THE RECORDER/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Charlie Anderson shoots near the rim in 3-on-3 basketball at Fisher Hill Elementary School, Thursday in Orange.  FOR THE RECORDER/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Hunter Martin, right, shoots near the rim against the defense of Aiden Lupien in 3-on-3 basketball at Fisher Hill Elementary School, Thursday in Orange.  FOR THE RECORDER/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Hunter Martin shoots during a 3-on-3 basketball game at Fisher Hill Elementary School, Thursday in Orange. FOR THE RECORDER/MIKE PHILLIPS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/1/2019 8:55:57 PM
Modified: 8/1/2019 8:55:45 PM

ORANGE — Morning basketball at Fisher Hill Elementary School could be described as friendly, yet highly competitive.  

Orange Recreation Association (ORA) runs a 3-on-3 league with players ranging from varsity athletes to second-graders.

Enver Softic facilitates the league with the help of parents and high school players who operate the scoreboards. The games run on the sideways courts to enable multiple contests to play simultaneously. 

Softic patrols the middle of the court with a whistle.

“I was looking for a way to provide an opportunity for kids in the area to be doing something during the day,” Softic said. “This is a good vehicle because it’s inside. The schools are great allowing us to use the building the way they do. We want to give young kids a chance to learn to love basketball.”

The younger teams play on weekday mornings at Fisher Hill, excluding Mondays. As the morning progresses, older players take the court.

The mixture of boys and girls of varying ages compete in competitive basketball games, with slight variations to usual rules.

The rules are designed to keep games close, and keep the game going. Some of the rules include: no player can score more than 18 points, no double teams, a team down by 10 keeps the ball after a basket, and a foul is a point for the opposing team.

The teams play 35-minute games, with substitutions coming every five minutes.  

“I just want the basketball to remain good throughout the game,” Softic said. “I also want kids feeling good at the end of the day. Everyone does their job. It’s all community as opposed to winning and losing.”

It is highly rare for players not to have a smile on their face during these games. There is a high number of “play it” situations when something is in question. 

One intriguing team had Mahar varsity athlete Charlie Barnes playing alongside Kendrah and Trinity Doane.

At seemingly every opportunity, Barnes passed up shots to get his younger teammates in scoring areas. 

“We want to give the older kids a chance to be role models,” Softic said. “The younger kids are taking all the right lessons. With basketball and how they handle themselves as people.”

At one point on Tuesday, Barnes and Kendrah Doane ran a pick-and-roll with Barnes on the receiving end of a picture-perfect bounce pass toward the rim.

“It helps us get better,” Kendrah Doane said. “Playing with older players helps because they’ve known the game longer. I am working on my passing and my shooting.”

Trinity Doane likes the challenge the league provides.

“You play with players who are better than you,” Trinity Doane said. “You can set a goal in your mind to beat them.”

On Thursday, Trinity Doane spent time guarding Micalyn Mailloux, who was the leading scorer for the Mahar Regional School girls basketball team last season. 

Mailloux gets a ton of defensive pressure from members of the Mahar boys varsity team during her games. 

Incoming Mahar Regional freshman Connor Sluder has the height advantage on most of his opponents. During a game Tuesday with younger opponents, Sluder appeared to take it slow.

“I like to play with my friends,” Sluder said. “This isn’t a really competitive league. It’s good practice and something to do over the summer.”

But Sluder’s intensity amplified when playing against Barnes in a later game. 

David Johnson is also going to be a freshman this year. Johnson had to deal with the swarming defense of Mahar’s Abby Henne during his game on Tuesday.

“It gives you more of a challenge,” Johnson said. “I have to pay more attention to the shots that I am shooting because they are right in my face.”

Mahar Regional athletes playing in the league include Delaney Parker, Matt Lyesiuk, Eli Spencer, Aiden Lupien, Jake Tenney, Aden Santana and Hailie Meeker.

The league runs through Aug. 9.

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