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Local girls basketball stars form AAU team

A basketball was placed on each low-post block. The girls rotated from one block to the other and scooped up the ball off the floor, pivoted, turned and tossed the basketball against the white square in the center of the backboard.

And. ... Swoosh.

The girls, from various high schools around Manatee County, performed the drill for a minute at a time. It’s all about improving their lay-up skills.

Then they worked on their rebounding coordination by throwing the ball off the backboard with two hands, jumping off the ground with both feet, grabbing the ball and laying it back in the basket.

It’s all about improving their rebounding skills.

For the Manatee Magic AAU basketball team, it’s all about meshing together to improve the level of play in this county.

They compete against each other for the respective schools during the basketball season, but this summer, young ladies from Southeast, Bradenton Christian and Lakewood Ranch combined and have a common goal to make the Magic — in its first year — a winner.

So far, so good.

The Magic have competed in three AAU basketball tournaments this season and have won two of them. Their latest tournament win came last week in the Beef O’ Brady’s Charlotte County Shootout.

The girls won five games by an average of 18 points per contest en route to capturing the title.

Breanna Lindsey, a junior at Lakewood Ranch, was named the tournament MVP.

“We get a lot of experience and a lot of playing time,” Lindsey said. “So when it comes down to real games, you know what to do.”

The Magic players could’ve easily gone to another county and played for a high-profile AAU squad in front of gobs of college coaches. Not to knock that approach, but they take pride in playing with their in-county rivals and playing for a local coach in Lakewood Ranch’s Tina Hadley.

“This is really important,” Lindsey said. “We should have more than one team. Playing together makes Manatee County better, and when you play in the offseason, this is preparing you for the regular season, and all of the work you put in during the offseason shows during the season.”

Furthermore, it’s easier to build chemistry with players they talk to off the hardwood.

“I know them all outside of basketball, because we all played at the Police Athletic League together,” said BCS forward Liz Capps. “You have to bond off the court, too, or else you don’t really know each other. When you know each other off the court people don’t get so upset (when you make mistakes), so it’s easier.”

As it appears, it’s easier to win, too.

Ryan T. Boyd, sports writer, can be reached at 745-7017.

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