MELISSA – Lady Cardinals head coach Heather Lane welcomed 35 participants to basketball camp on Monday, June 19, at Melissa High School. The four-day camp, offered for incoming second through ninth grade girls, attracted a younger set this time around — which was just fine with Lane.

“There’s a lot of little ones, which is good – it’s different,” she said. “We’re used to having more junior high age, like seventh or eighth or incoming freshmen. It’s great, though. It’s good to see the little ones because a lot of times, soccer takes the little kids away from us.”

“Mostly, we want them to have a good time and start creating a passion for the game to where they’ll want to work,” she added. “And we want them to feel like they’ve improved some so they’ll want to do it again. … With this many ‘littles,’ it’s just getting a feel for the basketball. Their bodies are so little. We use the 28.5-inch ball, (standard for girls varsity). We don’t really have junior balls at camp. They can bring their own ball.”

Skills like passing, catching and dribbling were taught throughout the week, as well a camp favorite – shooting.

“We try to teach them the proper way to shoot the ball,” Lane said.

The baskets weren’t lowered on Day 1 but were on Day 2, to allow the smaller girls a better chance to show improvement.

Assisting Lane at camp were Melissa JV coach J.D. Clemmons, father of Lady Cardinal Sally Clemmons, and Katie Webb, a former Lady Cardinal and daughter of Claude and Susie Webb. Claude Webb is girls athletic director at Melissa High and was head coach of the Lady Cards when Katie played. Katie graduated MHS in 2015 and now plays for Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

On Thursday, Kyla Gabel, 14, said she hopes to continue playing basketball in high school.

“Basketball,” she said, “it’s a skill sport and I love doing all the skills.”

Mia Ellis, 13, said, “I like that (camp) is fun but then (Lane) still teaches you how to do stuff. And she doesn’t, like, yell at you.”

Shelia Gillen of Farmersville was on hand Thursday to watch her granddaughter, Sage Gillen, 7.

“This is her first year at basketball camp,” Gillen said, “but she’s absolutely loving it. And I’m learning so much. These are excellent coaches. I am so impressed with their curriculum and what they’re doing. … She loves it from the minute she gets here till she leaves. They keep them busy, she learning so much. It’s really a good program.”