The fast and furious: Nonstop action at ‘Cage’

Driven to win: Players going head to head in the W. Fourth St. League.
Driven to win: Players going head to head in the W. Fourth St. League.

BY ROBERT ELKIN  |  Summer is known as baseball season, but at the W. Fourth St. court in the Village, it’s when basketball kicks into high gear.

The W. Fourth St. League features games during daylight hours seven days a week. Because there is limited sitting, all spectators are advised to bring their own chairs.

Kenny Graham is the director of the league, which also includes two divisions for young women. The league also has a commissioner and assistant directors. Nike is the league’s sponsor.

One former junior college coach is among those who enjoy watching the games at “The Cage.” A Manhattan resident who used to live on Long Island and has been associated with basketball for many years, he requested anonymity. He doesn’t even recruit, but enjoys the action at W. Fourth St.

“I’ve been following this W. Fourth St. League for about 10 years. These players are really impressive,” he said. “I see some great ones here. These kids are still learning. It’s good for them.”

One player from the league, Ismael Johnson, is at Odessa College, a two-year junior college in Texas.

“A lot of players out of Odessa College end up at a Division I college,” the ex-coach noted.

This year’s competition has featured a number of first-timers in the high school division. Among them is Elias Edeneke.

“It’s fun playing in the league,” said Elias, who attended high school in Connecticut. “I’m only a sophomore in high school and also play in other leagues, such as Dyckman and Rucker. I have to get stronger and bigger. But, otherwise, I feel good.”

The league’s high school division is growing in teams and in the number of players. It’s a great opportunity for the recruiters, especially the college ones, to look at the young talent. They don’t talk to the players, though. They just take notes and watch them in action.

The top eight teams in each division qualify for the playoffs to determine one champion for each division.