Summer is finally here for the Bartholomew County schools, and the local high schools are offering the opportunity for Columbus’ young athletes to brush up on their skills.

The Columbus East and Columbus North basketball programs have started their boys and girls camps this week and are putting an emphasis on fundamentals.

“It’s about handling the ball properly, shooting the ball properly and defending properly,” East boys basketball coach Brent Chitty said. “It’s just a lot of fundamental stuff. Then we try to implement it and transfer it into play.”

Four different camps are being held between the two schools, with each having its own boys and girls groups. The ages range from kindergarten up to next year’s incoming freshman. The camps are held every summer and some kids in the area have grown up participating for multiple years.

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Emma Long, who will be attending Central Middle School as a seventh-grader, has participated in North’s girls camp since she was in fourth grade. Long has learned how to shoot free throws and finish strong when driving to the basket during her time the the North camp. She is looking to learn as much as she can and plans on competing for Central’s seventh-grade team next season.

“If you want to play in high school, you have to know all of this stuff and not just come in like it’s your first year playing basketball,” Long said. “It’s very exciting (to learn from the older players) because they know how it is to be in that opportunity.”

Both schools are relying on past and present players to help run the camps, including Indiana University basketball player Ali Patberg, who led North to the 2015 Class 4A state title. Patberg and other members of the two North girls basketball teams that made back-to-back state finals appearances have come back to help run drills for the girls camps. This is Patberg’s second year participating as a Bull Dogs alum.

“When I was this age growing up, I looked up to all the older players,” Patberg said. “Those were my role models, and I want to be that for every girl out here. I want to help them get better as players and as people. This community has meant everything to me, and I feel like this is just a small part where I can give back anytime.”

The camps also give younger kids like like 8-year-old Michael Reed a chance to see if basketball is a sport he would like to pursue. His grandfather Don Reed thought it would be a good idea to bring Michael to East’s kindergarten through third-grade boys camp after Michael showed some interest in basketball.

“He’s just started thinking basketball,” Don Reed said. “He’s been doing soccer and started shooting around and dribbling, and he kind of liked it … He wanted to come, and I think it is important in the beginning to determine if that’s your interest or not.”

Chitty had his seventh- and eighth-grade group working on ball-handling by doing a number of different drills, like bouncing the basketball while concentrating on bouncing a tennis ball at the same time. Kacasey Bartholomew plans on playing basketball for East as a freshman next year and said getting directions from the varsity coaching staff is helpful as he prepares himself for the high school level

“You know what to work on, so you’re ready for what we’ll be doing next year,” Bartholomew said. “So you can practice and get better at it before you even start.”

North girls assistant coach Brett White said one of the main focuses during the camp is to work on things that the athletes can take home and work on by themselves once the camp is over.

“No matter what offense you run, if you can’t pass and catch, then you can’t run an offense. If you can’t dribble, it’s tough to run an offense,” North girls head coach Pat McKee said. “That’s what camp is about — individual fundamentals that they can carry over into anything that they do within the game.”

If you go

Two local youth basketball camps are coming up next week.

Columbus East’s girls basketball summer camp will be Monday through June 14 at the school. Girls entering Grades 3 to 6 will be from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and girls entering Grades 7 and 8 will be from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

The camp will focus on teaching fundamentals and is directed by East coach and Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer Danny Brown. Cost is $45.

Registration information can be found at columbuseastathletics.org.

Also, former East girls basketball coach Mel Good and his sons Gerad and Shawn will host the Two Good Basketball Camp from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through June 15 at Ceraland.

The camp is for boys and girls ages 6 to 15. Cost is $110 for Ceraland members and $150 for nonmembers.

For more information, contact ceraland@ceraland.org or 812-377-5849, option 2.

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.