Summer hoops leagues remain popular

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The ultra-popular girls’ basketball summer league at Freeport has served as a tremendous outlet for high school athletes for more than two decades and continues to do so.

“You see such a development in teams as the season unfolds and the league builds camaraderie,” said Meredith Jones, Freeport’s varsity head coach of 14 years. “It’s a nice, relaxed atmosphere. A lot of girls play AAU during the summer, so in a league like ours the younger kids get a ton of game experience.”

Former Lady Red Devils head coach Ernie Kight has long been associated with the league and remains active in helping it run smooth. This summer, Jones said the varsity consists of 14 teams, including six-time defending Nassau Class AA champion Baldwin, as well as defending Class A champion Sewanhaka, Massapequa, Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart.

“I’ve been around the league since I’m coaching here and it keeps growing,” Jones said. “We’re playing three nights a week now, in two gyms, and capped it at 30 teams between varsity and JV.”

Games consist of two 20-minute halves with running time until the last two minutes of each half. Each team plays a 10-game season that’ll conclude next week, with the playoffs scheduled for Aug. 12, 13 and 14. Nassau County High School officials are used and also benefit from the experience, Jones noted, and have utilized three referees on the court at the same time to model a playoff game.

Another destination for summer hoops is Carle Place, which concludes its 16-team girls’ league this week. Among the schools competing are Seaford and Mepham. Seaford varsity head coach Bob Vachris said the Lady Vikings have 19 girls playing, with one of their two teams in the league strictly comprised of incoming sophomores and coached by Stephanie Bartkus. “It’s really encouraging,” Vachris said of the turnout.

Mepham has 13 girls on the roster, head coach Jim Mulvey said, and has been a part of the Carle Place league for a dozen years. “We have a lot of multisport athletes at Mepham, so you want the girls to pick up a basketball as much as possible,” he said. “We’ve had very good attendance all summer. I’m proud of the commitment they’ve shown.”