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Hoops officials hone skills at off-season camp

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While some 35 Utah high school basketball teams honed their skills at the 3rd Annual Great Basin basketball summer tournament last week, some 60 area officials did the same.

Greg Warner, the UHSAA state arbiter, said it is a good setting for the officials to better their games because no league or state titles are on the line.

"They are very, very pleased — at least that's the feedback I'm getting from the coaches — that they (the officials) are making a strong effort to be better. Years ago they would be off vacationing or spending time with their families. Instead of that, they are trying to make themselves better like the teams are."

At the camp each official called nine to 12 games and received comments from 16 evaluators, some of which were NCAA officials, collegiate supervisors and organization presidents.

Only 15-20 of the officials who attended were on varsity lists (meaning they could officiate varsity games), the other 35-40 were up-and-coming officials that were trying learn the trade, and all came at their own expense.

"The day where officials worked tons of ball games and were seen by people are gone," Warner said. "For an official to make any kind of advancement and move up through the ranks, they have to go to camps."

This was the third year that Warner conducted the camp in conjunction with the Great Basin tournament.

UTAH JR. WINNERS: Annie Thurman, a Lone Peak High grad and Oklahoma State signee, captured her third straight Utah Jr. Open title and Stephen Newren of Cottonwood picked up his first junior golf championship at Riverbend and Meadow Brook golf courses Monday and Tuesday.

Thurman fired a 1-under 143, while Newren shot a 4-under 140, one shot better that a group of five tied for second at 3-under par.

CELEBRITY HOOPS: The Former Collegiate Athletes Association has invited several Utah high school basketball players to take on pro and college players in a game Friday at 7 p.m. at Olympus High School. Scheduled to appear are former Utah Jazz player Ike Austin, current Jazz members Quincy Lewis and Scott Padgett, and former Utes Andre Miller, Michael Doleac, Byron Wilson and Alex Jensen. Silas Mills, Tonaka Beard, Darius Beard and Lewis Loftin.

The cost is $3 for kids and $5 for adults.

Proceeds from the game will benefit the FCAA youth development programs.

The FCAA is a non-profit organization established to assist former college athletes.