By Brandon HENSLEY
Football season has kicked off, but it’s almost time for some basketball in the foothills. Last week at Crescenta Valley High School, tryouts took place for the CV Falcon Youth Basketball program.
On Tuesday night, Sept. 22 there were tryouts for boys in fifth and sixth grade. Wednesday had tryouts for third and fourth-grade boys. There were also tryouts on Sept. 17.
Since it’s a community league, everyone makes the team.
“It’s just fun to see the kids develop. It’s a good healthy activity,” said Joe Maniccia, director of the league.
Maniccia is a former coach in the league, although he gets his fill as the current junior varsity boys coach at CVHS. He was there Tuesday, conversing with coaches and watching kids work through drills.
In all, there are three boys’ levels, and two girls’ levels. The problem, said Maniccia, is finding enough girls to fill out teams because getting the word out is difficult.
“We pretty much put things in a Thursday folder in the elementary schools. But now it’s electronic. It’s hard to find. If you don’t look for it you’ll never see it,” he said.
That didn’t use to be the case. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, former high school star Michelle Greco helped galvanize young girls in the community in their love of basketball. Greco’s teams made deep runs CIF, and she went on to play at UCLA, the WNBA and professionally overseas. Greco also held camps at CVHS back then.
“She was such a mega star, and everyone knew her,” Maniccia said.
The program doesn’t have a website, and Maniccia said the biggest key for community awareness is to notify families when potential players are young.
Practice for every team will take place sometime in October. The 10-game season will start in December, take a break for the holidays, resume in January and then conclude in early March.
Most, if not all games, will take place at CVHS.
Traveling teams, two for the boys, one for the girls, will play opponents from the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita area.
“I think you’re better prepared for high school if you don’t just play locally, Maniccia said.”
Baseball is popular in the area, and the CV football team garnered huge attention for winning a CIF title last season. But Maniccia says La Crescenta is still a basketball town.
“I went to school here, and it was a basketball school, a basketball area,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ever changed. I still it’s the number one sport of choice.”