With summer well under way, athletes have hit the diamonds, soccer fields and swimming pools. But for some athletes, the rising temperatures are the perfect excuse to head indoors - for basketball.
With its fast pace play and downsized version of the game, the Hoopsters' 3-on-3 league has become a popular choice for youth basketball players throughout Lawrence as a way to keep playing during the summer and to get away from the heat, even if just for one day out of the week.
"We've been having Hoopster's 3-on-3 for nine years now," league director Rick McNabb said. "It's grown up a lot since, but it's still a good way for kids to do summer basketball and still have plenty of time for anything else involved in their schedules."
McNabb and his team of referees and scorekeepers at the Holcom Park Center not only provide a guide to the rules and process but also are known to offer pointers to the young athletes during games.
"At this point this league can go two ways - one end is kids who use this league as an introductory league before taking it to the bigger leagues in the winter," McNabb said. "The other side is for experienced kids who work on specific parts of the game that 3-on-3 emphasizes. Either way we try to give them help in any which way they need to improve."
Since gameplay is on a half-court basis, speed is almost removed from the game and instead relies on a lot of movement outside of the ball. The ability to pass, cut and set screens are specific skills used around the ball. Athletes like John Fellers, an incoming seventh-grader at West Junior High this fall, can't seem to get enough of the league.
Fellers has been involved in the summer league for three years and looks forward to it every summer.
"My friends and I like it a lot," said Fellers. "We get to play our way and have a lot of fun while we do it. It's something I look forward to every week."
This season Fellers and his team have only one loss, and Fellers hopes they can win the season-ending tournament, which goes on through this week. Even players new to the league are impressed and won over by the league's fun-loving appeal.
"I really like how it gets kids involved," said Dan Krieger, also an incoming seventh-grader at West Junior High. "It's a good way for me and my friends to get together and have fun playing against each other."