Jul. 3—In June, while everyone else was enjoying the summer, three area basketball teams were getting ready for the upcoming season.
The Geneva, Edgewood and Madison boys basketball teams each made the trip to Perry for summer league basketball. It was the culmination of the teams’ offseason programs.
Each team played several games over the course of the league. They were also able to field five boys on the court instead of making due with what players chose to participate.
“The kids get a chance to be together, to bond,” Geneva head coach Eric Bowser said. “Younger guys coming up, here’s a taste of what you’re gonna experience. I find it really beneficial.”
All three teams focused on the same goal: building chemistry. That came in different forms based on the grades of the students participating. The coaches wanted to see players step into leadership roles, while others where tasked with trying to find a role and the rest where there to learn the speed of the varsity game.
“That was really good for the team, especially the young players,” Edgewood head coach John Bowler said.
For some, it was the first year with a traditional offseason. COVID-19 shut down summer leagues across the state last year.
So the coaches and players were ready to get back into the gym, knowing the summer league momentum could lead to a fast start next season.
“A lot of teams struggledto get that going at thebeginning of the year,” Madison head coach Nick Gustin said.
The summer camps and competitions can help players gain insight into a system or coach. But it could also provide an opportunity for the coaches to learn about their players.
“It really helps me understand the young kids, and for them to understand me,” Bowler said.
The coaches saidthey saw good competition. The area schools competed against programs like Chardon, Lake Catholic andWickliffe. Chardon advanced to a Division II district final before losing to Struthers in the title game.
“One of the main objectives is to get some of the newer guys a taste of what they’re experiencing at the next level,” Bowser said. “I actually pulled three freshmen up for a varsity game. And they really do get a taste of the reality of the speed of the game, the physicality of the game — the things that are associated with that.”
The goal for thethree area teams playing at Perry was to improve heading into the 2021-22 school year. And all three coaches believe they achieved that goal.
“You don’t set that up in Game 1,” Gustin said. “It’s set up in the summer through games and practice.”
The high school basketball season begins on Nov. 24.