Nine Montecito Union School students were recognized last week with the “5-Year Award” for participating five years in the Montecito Basketball Academy. The Montecito school, directed and founded by Curt Pickering, also recognized Scout Vernon as the 7,500th participant in the academy, which began 10 years ago teaching basketball to kids ages 4 to 15.

In its decade of operation the school has been Montecito’s quintessential basketball development program, through practices and regular season games. Many players who have gone through the program have also participated in interschool games through the Pacific League, which Pickering helped found. In that league, students from five Montecito schools – Montecito Union, Cold Spring, Crane, Marymount and Laguna Blanca – played a twelve-game regular season that culminated in an end-of-the-year tournament.

In the league’s first year, Montecito Union’s sixth-graders went undefeated and won the championship. The Marymount fourth and fifth grade team won in its age bracket.