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For the second consecutive year, Dreyfoos guard Matthew Charlton will spend his summer vacation fine-tuning his jump shot at a pair of Riviera Beach gyms.
Charlton, who will be a senior in the fall, is one of 300 boys high school basketball players who are participating in the Dream Big Summer Basketball League.
Formed in 2012 by West Palm Beach-based Dream Big Sports Academy and the City of Riviera Beach Parks and Recreation Department, the league is designed to provide a competitive playing environment for athletes during the summer, according to league director Chris Edden.
"We wanted to help fill a void," Edden said. "The league offers a lot of competition where you can refine your game as an individual player, and it offers the opportunity for you to be able to put your team in a very competitive environment and almost have a second season or a preseason."
Many of the players competing in the varsity division -- the league also fields divisions for elementary- and middle school-age players -- are standouts on their high school teams or recent high school graduates.
Players representing nearly a dozen high schools, including Park Vista, Dwyer, Royal Palm Beach, Palm Beach Lakes, Suncoast and Palm Beach Gardens, are registered to compete.
"The level of competition in this league is pretty high," said Charlton, who plays for the A1 Dreamers. "Now they're allowing college students to come play against the high school students on the varsity level, so it's a huge benefit to stay in shape over the summer."
"It gives me a chance to work out and work on my game and get better for next season," added James Powell, a Dwyer guard who plays for the Hooping for Jesus team.
Each team in the varsity division will play eight to 10 games during the regular season, which runs through Aug. 2. Playoffs will follow.
Games are played on weeknights and Saturdays in front of huge crowds at the Dan Calloway Recreation Center and Wells Recreational Center in Riviera Beach. Admission is free.
Participation in the league has doubled since it began two years ago, Edden said.
"The first year, we were pulling kids out of the stands so the games won't be cancelled," Edden said. "Now we have over 50 teams competing. It is what's needed in our community during the summer months."
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July 1, 2014