From playing summer basketball with the 15-and-under Arundel Waves, North County guard Emma Ketterle says she's improved both her shot selection and her marksmanship.
And as a center for the Waves, which recently won the Amateur Athletic Union state title, Broadneck's 6-foot junior Julie Barr has honed her quickness and positioning skills.
The two players soon will get an opportunity to test their enhanced abilities against some of the nation's best teams in their age group when the Waves travel to Amarillo, Texas, for the AAU Junior Olympic National Tournament July 23 through Aug. 1.
"I'm really looking forward to the competition," said Barr, 15, who began playing basketball six years ago in the Cape St. Claire recreation leagues.
"There should be a lot of college recruiters there and opportunities to be invited to special camps to improve your skills even more."
Ketterle and Barr are just two of the 10 countians -- including six players from Severna Park High -- who will travel with the squad.
Representing Severna Park are Erin McNeally, Allison Adams, Sandy Jenkin, Megan Jones, Marilyn Kelly and Kathy McCafferty.
Chesapeake's Megan VanWambeke and Arundel's Jenny Woods, as well as two players from Howard County's Class 2A state champion Hammond -- All-Metro pick Kacy Williams and Sonia Keiner -- are also members of the Waves.
"These girls get to meet a lot of players from other schools in the state, so it's a nice feature when they have to play each other again during the winter," said Waves coach Joe Gillespie, who is both a varsity assistant to Severna Park's coach Kevin McGrath and the head coach of the Falcons' junior varsity.
This is the fifth time in the last six years that Gillespie has been affiliated with a team that has qualified for the AAU nationals. His 15-and-under squads accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons in 1987 and 1988, as did his 16-and-under squads in 1989 and 1990.
Last year's squad was dethroned by the Annapolis All-Stars, but the Waves avenged that loss with this year's 39-37 state semifinal victory before cruising past Harford County's Edgewood, 53-39, in the state title game.
"It's definitely an honor and a morale booster to represent Maryland," said Gillespie. "The opening ceremonies are quite impressive, and there are literally hundreds of college coaches around. Many of them express interest in following the careers of some girls."
The Waves' program, which has yielded some 18 Division I scholarships, had its highest national finish in 1988, when it placed 13th.
"Whether we get to the nationals or not, we try to give them the best basketball experience possible," Gillespie said.
The Waves have their hands full as members of the Greater Baltimore Women's Basketball League and entered last week with a 3-2 division record.
"The value of the summer league is that there is good competition and it keeps the girls in shape," said Gillespie. "It's great as a tune-up for the nationals, and without it, there would be a significant gap in the girls' training."
Barr echoed her mentor's sentiments.
"At Broadneck, I was used more as the seventh player off of the bench. More as a post-up player," said Barr. "But this team is more of a guard-oriented team, so I have to work harder for the ball. It's good for me."
And the tempo revolves around the speed and quickness of the smaller players like Ketterle, who stands just 5-3.
"For my high school team, I was basically a point or shooting guard, usually a sixth man," said Ketterle, 16. "But I'm more comfortable shooting now and I've gained a lot of experience to carry into next year.