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Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Local girls feel pressure of AAU tryout

March 21, 2007

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Basketball tryouts can be trying.

Just ask the 31 girls who went through a two-day audition for the Northeast Lady Prospects, an Amateur Athletic Union basketball program, this weekend in Lawrence.

The process can be pressure-packed and intimidating with girls from Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City and points in between taking part.

Northeast coach Phillipe McCree, who evaluated the high school-aged girls who tried out, said a particular girl from Lecompton voiced her fears to him before things got started Saturday.

"I've never been this nervous before in my life," she told McCree.

The Lady Prospects coach said this was the reason for the two-day tryout.

"That first day you can come in and get used to the atmosphere and know what to expect. Sunday you can come back ready to play," McCree said.

McCree said the intensity of a tryout allowed him to learn about a player's moxie.

"If you can come to a tryout and perform well, there's nothing you can't do in a game," he said. "To me, trying out is more nerve wrecking than to play a game because playing basketball comes naturally."

Emily Peterson, 14, had never played for an AAU team before and she felt a little intimidated heading into the tryout, particularly because she is an eighth-grader and many of the other girls there were in high school.

"I'm younger than everybody else and they have like a year more experience than I do," she said.

Peterson was unsure of her status after the first day.

"I was kind of not feeling too good about it," Peterson said, "but afterwards (Sunday) I felt pretty good."

McCree said she was right to feel good about her performance against some stiff, older competition.

"She hung tough with those girls," he said of Peterson, who will play for the Lady Prospects high school developmental team when the season commences March 30.

The tryout process was a little less taxing for a couple of other Lawrence girls. Wren Wiebe and Haley Parker - who McCree identified as members of the high school traveling elite team - have been in the Northeast program a few years and did not feel the same pressure as the newcomers.

"Those two kids are pretty special," the coach said. "Playing in something like this is second nature."

Nevertheless, Parker said she had to come to the tryout prepared.

"There are lots of other girls with the same talent level and same experience," she said. "I just wanted to stay focused on myself and not worry about what other people were doing so, I could do the best that I could."

Parker, Peterson and Wiebe, the three Lawrence girls for Northeast's high school ranks, will all contribute to the AAU program.

"I think all three girls exude leadership in their own ways," McCree said.

The Lady Prospects program just had its first graduating class last year and McCree said all four players were offered college basketball scholarships.

"We tell the girls right from the jump, all it takes is that one good game in front of that one college coach and all of the sudden you're on their list as a player to watch," he said.

In other words, these girls should get used to playing in pressure situations.

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