Maely Schrader and Emilee East say they want to become better ballhandlers when it comes to the game of basketball.

Both are attending the Seymour Owls girls basketball camp this week at Seymour Middle School and are practicing all parts of their game.

Schrader, who will be a fifth-grader at Immanuel Lutheran School, said this is her second year attending the camp.

“I want to improve on my left-hand ball skills and get better on my right-hand ball skills,” she said. “I feel comfortable passing. I play volleyball and do cheerleading.”

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She said she also plans on attending volleyball and cheer camps this summer.

East will be a seventh-grader at Seymour Middle School, and said she has been attending the basketball camp for three or four years.

“I want to work on my ballhandling,” she said and mentioned she wants to improve dribbling and shooting left-handed.

East, who also plays softball, said she likes shooting free throws but doesn’t feel comfortable shooting 3-pointers.

The camp director is Jason Longmeier, who is varsity girls basketball coach at Seymour High School.

He has divided the camp into two age groups and has 30 in the kindergarten through third-grade group, and 40 in the fourth through eighth grade group.

The camp is 90 minutes, Monday through Thursday, and Longmeier said about half that time focuses on drills, and the other half the girls play different games.

“Our focus basically goes on the basics of the game, the dribbling and passing,” Longmeier said. “We don’t work on much defensive stuff. The kids don’t really find the joy in that as much as they do the shooting and things.

“Our focus right now is really on some footwork, especially with the younger kids, teaching them how to properly step before they shoot, properly how to shoot a layup. Ballhandling, we’re getting a little more advanced with each age level.”

Longmeier said the women’s game at the high school and collegiate levels has changed, and he has brought changes to his camp.

“The way the game has evolved over the last 15 to 20 years, it really is a ballhandlers game,” he said. “The more that these kids can get the ball in their hands, and learn how to really dribble — not only dribble but how to handle the basketball in a way that makes you hard to defend — we’re going to focus on that and some shooting stuff.”

The younger age group is shooting on lower goals.

“We have them shooting on shorter goals just so we can really focus on proper technique so they’re not throwing the ball up to the rim,” Longmeier said.

The older girls do some 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills.

“We continue to build up and by the end of the week we’ll have them playing some 5-on-5, and try to get them in the open floor a little bit,” Longmeier said. “We have a lot of talent in this group. We have some good size; we have guards that really handle the ball well. Many of these kids have been with us now for most of the years I’ve been here.”

Longmeier has seen growth in the camp’s attendees.

“Our (camp) numbers are up 15 percent from where they were last year, and our numbers were up 20 percent in our leagues,” Longmeier said. “I think we’re starting to generate some interest back in Seymour basketball.”

Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.