March madness is around the corner and so is my favorite part.
And yours, too, if near North County’s coast.
Sure the NCAA Tournament games on TV are compelling, with unlikely results and unparalleled action.
Then there are everyone’s betting brackets, which are never more than an arm’s length away.
They prove one to be an expert college basketball prognosticator one day, not so much the next.
But this is more about who’s got next and won’t the rest of the country be jealous.
While rain might fall this weekend, it won’t last. We know the sun will return and so will I, to three courts that make others mad about our March.
While some shovel out from winter dig these slices of outdoor basketball heaven along our coast.
Each has its own charm — and bounce of the rim — and offer the opportunity to shoot hoops in sunshine, a little more than a 3-point shot shy of the ocean.
We’ll start north and work south, the direction my game often turns after a few rounds of pickup basketball.
Cannon Park, Carlsbad
Near one of the nation’s biggest desalination projects is a full court, which is full of fun.
The double rims with cloth nets are open to 10 p.m., and who says you can’t hoist a jumper in the dark?
There is a nifty palm tree serving as a backdrop to one basket; a grassy field for the other.
Two benches are along the courts; two picnic tables with barbecues are close by.
The water fountain isn’t near, but that just gives you time to catch your breath. And with the ocean practically across the street, a dip can follow getting run off the court.
Glen Park, Cardiff.
Trek down Highway 101, past South Carlsbad and South Ponto state beaches and look for the Kook. The statue, which Cardiff is known for, is your clue to turn left, and then a quick right on San Elijo Avenue.
That brings you to Glen Park, a gem just east of the train tracks with a full-court painted blue to match the ocean and sky.
The action here can get spirited on the weekends, so bring your “A” game or something to snack on while waiting your turn.
Some of the best local players often clog the court in tournament play, but the Cardiff vibe is tough to beat.
So is the playground next to the courts, same goes for the beach volleyball court, which is adjacent to a horseshoe pit.
There’s plenty to do here other than basketball, which makes it a keen spot for the entire family.
The single-bar rims can be forgiving, but not the setting sun when aiming for the west-facing basket. Late in the day, having first pick at the hoop toward the east is as essential as selecting the out-of-town ringer No. 1.
Del Mar Municipal Tennis Courts
The city brags here about its only two muni courts in town. But we’ll let the tennis crew have their sweat, while we play the “other” court.
Tucked next to the tennis is a half-court that is the newest of the three we’ve mentioned. The green court has a double-rim, and unlike our other offerings, chain nets — which need replacing!
It’s a cozy layout, with the train tracks about 70 feet behind the basket — shoot well, my friend — and the dirt out-of-bounds is just inches from the baseline.
But it’s a nifty hideaway, where you can work on your game and your tan. Just turn east off of Camino Del Mar (Highway 101) at 21st Street and south on Court Street.
Like most of Del Mar, parking is at a premium with just six spots. Plus there is no place to sit if waiting, with the court ambiance restricted to a trash can with two reminders this seaside city holds dear: Keep Del Mar Clean and No Alcohol Beverages.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports