Saturday night produced a pair of thrilling Horizon League tournament finishes. Bright and early the next morning, it was the youth of Detroit that had taken over the Joe Louis Arena court.
For boys and girls, ages 8 to 14, Sunday was the ultimate hoops experience: Horizon League Basketball Camp with a couple of former Division-I stars leading them through the paces.
Brandon Cassise played for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies from 2004-08. He was happy to be involved in the camp. “It’s just great giving kids an opportunity to be out here on this stage. To play in this arena, such a historic place; it’s fun to share the love of basketball.”
Jonathon Jones, another former Oakland standout and the nation’s leader in assists in 2008-09, was impressed by the level of play from the attendees. “I think there are a couple of future Division-I players out at this camp, both boys and girls. A lot of talented kids on the court today.”
One of the thrills for the kids was the presence of the Horizon League mascots, as well as other costumed characters from the Detroit area.
Jacob Lavrosse, a 9-year-old camper from Warren, enjoyed the chance to hang out and shoot hoops with the mascots. “It was really exciting. I liked the Green Bay mascot (Phlash the Phoenix) the best.”
10-year-old Lawrence Summey of Detroit was partial to the professional mascots in attendance. “Hooper from the Pistons was my favorite.”
The camp session ended with an educational talk from Lisa McDowell, dietitian for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. She shared tips with the campers on the importance of staying healthy and keeping up a well-balanced diet.
It was the perfect way to kick off a big day of Motor City Madness quarterfinal action.
“When you get these kids running around, that’s the biggest thing. They all enjoyed themselves,” said camp co-leader Jones. “It was a really great event and I’m happy I got be part of it.”