By Mike DeNardo

Call it February Madness. The Philadelphia Police Athletic League held its traditional Presidents’ Day basketball finals on Monday at the Palestra.

The passing was crisp and the players were knocking down three-pointers at the finals of the citywide PAL tournament.

Teams play single-elimination games at PAL centers and the final eight reach the title games at the Palestra on Presidents’ Day.

“A lot if these kids, it’s the first time playing on a college basketball campus in a college basketball gym,” says Sergeant Eric Ervin. “It’s a great experience for them.”

Champions were crowned in the age 10-and-under, 12-and-under, 14-and-under, and 16-and-under divisions.

“It’s fun because the coach, he lets us play as a team,” says Ahmir Harris, who plays power forward for the age 10-and-under champion Paley PAL team. “He (doesn’t) really coach us. He tells us what to do and we make that happen.”

Guest referee and PAL alum Justin Minter-Smith gives PAL coaches all the credit in the world.

“These guys have taught me a lot,” says Minter-Smith. “Tools that I’ve used to go on in school and graduate with a degree in communications. It’s been a very big influence on my life.”

Sergeant Ervin says that’s what PAL is all about.