A contingent of 10 fledgling players entered the Arizona State University girls' basketball camp, searching for ways to improve their hardwood skills.
Held in ASU's Wells Fargo Arena June 18 to 21, the Rim country youngsters were among 250 aspiring players from around the country who participated.
Accompanied to the camp by Lady Longhorn coach Shaun Hardt, the Rim country crew included girls who will be entering grades eight, nine and 10 next school year.
Hardt said he would like to have had his older veteran players participate, but due to other commitments, most couldn't attend.
"It was a real good camp," Hardt said. "(The coaches) were out to teach the girls to play with some heart."
Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner-Thorn and several of the ASU players were on hand to teach the campers.
"They taught a lot of skills, especially the motion offense and moving without the ball," Hardt said.
In addition to working on fundamentals, the campers participated in rigorous daily scrimmage sessions.
"They played a lot of games and that was really good for us. We needed that," Hardt said.
Whitney Hardt the coach's daughter was named, by camp coaches, to the high school division all-star team for her outstanding efforts over the course of the four-day camp.
"I thought it was a real good camp. I learned a lot," Whitney said.
Last prep season as a freshman, Whitney earned considerable varsity playing time despite battling a nagging leg injury.
The coach's other daughter, 13-year-old Kari, was tapped to the camp's middle school all-star team. She was also named the camp's outstanding defensive player and received an official ASU practice jersey, which she proudly wore the week after camp recessed.
Another Payson camper, 15-year-old Misty Roberson, finished fourth in the "Hot Shot" competition.
The experience of traveling to a university atmosphere and battling against some of the state's best young players was a huge plus for small town athletes, Hardt said. "We'll definitely go back."
At the conclusion of the camp, the Lady Horn coach took his players to Phoenix College where they participated in the Bears' summer invitational tournament.
Competing against mostly class 4A and 5A schools, the Payson summer squad made up almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores finished with a 1-4 record.
"We played OK, but we're just too young," coach Hardt said.
The team returned to the hardwood Tuesday evening in a round robin played at Apache Junction High School. On hand to participate were San Carlos, Queen Creek and host AJ.
The Rim summer crew played three games, but no score was kept. Again, Hardt bemoaned the fact his team was playing without most of its varsity letter winners.
With a full month of summer recess remaining, Hardt is hoping his charges turn out for weight training sessions to be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Also, open gym sessions will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.
Call Hardt at 474-2233 for more information on the summer program.