Polson looks to future in 2026 with girls basketball camp

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IZZY FYANT (far left) drives to the basketball while Olivia Jore (middle) and Aubrey Gilmore (far right) attempt to defend her in the final Little Passers basketball camp Saturday at Linderman Elementary School. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

The Polson High School girls basketball program is still in search of its first-ever Class A state championship in the program’s history.

At the camp, the girls practice two times a week for an hour and 15 minutes in the five week camp for elementary school kids ages third to sixth grade.

“It’s been a while since the girls basketball program has been to state,” Rochin said. “I think learning the fundamentals is important and this is a great age to absorb a lot of things for them. In the back of their mind, it might give them something down the road. I think it’s a good thing for their parents to instill in these kids that they can take to other levels of basketball.”

Rochin acknowledged the difficulty of winning a state championship basketball title but references the recent success the Pirates’ High School boys basketball team has had under Coach Randy Kelley.

“It’s hard to win a championship and be one of the top teams in our conference,” Rochin said. “The success the boys team has had comes back to the elementary program. The boys program was able to develop Matthew Rensvold and Tanner Wilson. They started in third and fourth grade, and during their junior and senior year, they qualified for state. I think our camp is a good beginning to find out if the girls like basketball.”

Rochin, Quinn, and several others involved in making the program come to fruition all have their collective sights on working towards a major goal: teaching.

“After the girls go through basketball camp, hopefully they work on doing things correctly,” Rochin said. “Hopefully, this camp instills the fundamentals of the game. I think it’s important and what they learn at the camp might mean something down the road. It’s a good thing to instill in the parents to take these kids to other things like AAU.”

Rochin said he had a lot of help organizing the camp for third and fourth grade girls.

“It’s been a total team effort and we had a lot of coaches and volunteers,” Rochin said.

The camp also got help from Providence Hospital, who donated two 8 ½ feet basketball hoops to give them the number of hoops they needed to run the camp. Tim Finkbeiner, the principal of Linderman Elementary, did buy the other six feet, one inches hoops for his school and for Polson to use at the camp. The Little Passers program bought a rim, Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital purchased two. The hoops were $519 each. The original two baskets were borrowed from Juan Perez, the girls basketball coach at Salish Kootenai College.

“I think the boys camp was a really good model to follow,” Rochin said. “They were doing a 3-on-3 camp and they were able to learn so much about basic defense and offensive fundamentals. We decided to keep the 3-on-3. Forty-seven 4th graders signed up. Hopefully, the word will get out to the second and third graders and they will come back next year.”

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