Organizers of a new youth basketball program are considering the first part of its first year a success.

Energy Youth Basketball wrapped up its fall senior league for fourth through sixth grade girls and boys Dec. 16 with tournaments at Redmond High. Two more leagues, the winter junior league for first through third grade, and winter senior advanced, for fifth through eighth graders, start this month.

The leagues have a total of 430 participants. League President Dusty Porter, a former Redmond High boys basketball coach, said the league is improving fundamentals for players.

Energy promotes the use of licensed, paid game officials, as well as a focus on academics. Porter said teachers check in with the league.

The league seeks to prepare kids better for high school play. Redmond had stronger teams while Porter coached there from 2008-11, before crosstown Ridgeview split the talent pool in 2012. So far this season, no Redmond team has a winning record in pre-league play, with the Redmond High girls having the best record at 6-6. In 2017-18, only the Ridgeview girls made the playoffs.

“I think we’ll see the rewards of that in three, four and five years, when we start seeing the results at the high school level, with more competitive teams year after year after year,” Porter said.

Porter has been proud of all involved in the league. He said everyone has followed the philosophy of “players play, coaches coach, officials officiate and parents cheer.”

“The parents have been tremendous and that makes a big difference,” Porter said. “We want our kids to be humble winners and gracious losers. That’s part of life.”

The nonprofit league has a strategic partnership with the Redmond School District and most of the teams use the nickname of a local school. Championships were won by the girls fourth through sixth grade Energy Cougars, who represent Terrebonne Community School, the boys fifth and sixth grade Energy Huskies, who take their nickname from Elton Gregory but have players from different middle schools.

The fourth grade boys title went to Crook County, the only team from outside Redmond School District boundaries. The Cowboys paid a team fee to join the league, whereas the Redmond teams are made up of players whose families pay their own fees, ranging from $85 to $195.

The league is also sponsoring the Energy Hoops Classic over President’s’ Day weekend, where teams from different age groups will compete for spots in the state middle school championships.

Current Redmond High boys basketball coach Reagan Gilbertson, who attended the championship day, said he’s seen a noticeable change in the skill development of the young players since the league started.

“It’s awesome to see all these kids in the gym working on their game, having fun together,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmond spokesman.com

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