Battle in the Bluffs courts success in Niantic Park

Ian Minor gathered the class together for one last huddle and a cheer at the close of the morning session on Saturday. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Youngsters aged 8 to 16 from across the country came to the hardcourt at Niantic Park in Oak Bluffs last Friday and Saturday to take part in the inaugural Battle in the Bluffs basketball camp.

Former college player and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate Ian Minor organized the event. He was assisted by his sisters Kia and Hailee, both former varsity players, and by Harvey Fuller, a professional playing in Germany, collegiate All-American Kris Davis, Arthur Andrews III, Gary Deberry, Solomon Jones, Melvin Robinson, and Andre Clark.

The coaches stressed thorough and careful execution of game fundamentals throughout the clinic. They also instilled in the 50-plus children that the same work habits condusive to success on the basketball court were necessary for a successful life off the court.

The camp was broken up into two half-day sessions. On Friday, the emphasis was on executing drills and learning skill sets. Saturday morning, the players broke up into teams and the coaches served as referees. There was one hard, fast rule: each team had to pass the ball five times before a player could attempt a shot.

Once the camp was complete, the coaches handed out certificates of achievement, along with special awards for Most Valuable Player and extra hustle.

Judging by the smiles and enthusiasm on the court, the event was a success.

“It was fun, a good experience,” said Drew Cowan of Washington, D.C.

Ian Minor agreed. “They learned some good information, how to become better basketball players, better adults, and better small people,” he said. “I think the younger players, in particular, got a lot out of it.”

Once the camp was over, the adults, including the coaches, took to the court for a four state “Battle in the Bluffs.”

In the first contest, New York edged out the Vineyard 62-60 in overtime. The locals were ahead most of the game but couldn’t lock up the win.

Game two pitted Connecticut against New Jersey. The game was no contest as the Nutmeggers ran away with a 64-29 victory.

New York and Connecticut met in the final. The teams played a hard fought, defensive game. Connecticut won 43-40, to reign as the best in the Bluffs. Ian Minor, who moved to the Vineyard from New York City in 10th grade, walked the walk, by scoring a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) for the New Yorkers.

Building on the success of this year’s camp, Mr. Minor plans to bring back a bigger Battle in the Bluffs in 2013, spanning more days, with more guest speakers.