In June, with everyone enjoying the summer, three area basketball teams were gearing up for the season ahead.
The Geneva men’s basketball teams, Edgewood and Madison each made the trip to Perry for Summer League basketball. It was the highlight of the teams’ offseason schedules.
Each team has played several games during the league. They were also able to field five boys on the pitch instead of just what the players chose to participate in.
“The children have the chance to be together, to bond,” said Geneva head coach Eric Bowser. “The younger ones are coming, here is a taste of what you are going to experience. I find it really beneficial.
All three teams focused on the same goal: building chemistry. This came in different forms depending on the grades of the participating students. The coaches wanted to see the players take on leadership roles, while others were tasked with trying to find a role and the rest were there to learn the speed of college play.
“It was really good for the team, especially for the younger players,” said Edgewood head coach John Bowler.
For some, it was the first year with a traditional offseason. COVID-19 closed summer leagues across the state last year.
Coaches and players were therefore set to return to the gym, knowing that the summer league momentum could lead to a quick start next season.
“A lot of teams struggled to achieve this at the start of the year,” said Madison head coach Nick Gustin.
Summer camps and competitions can help players better understand a system or coach. But it could also be an opportunity for coaches to learn more about their players.
“It really helps me understand young children, and for them to understand me,” Bowler said.
The coaches said they saw good competition. Schools in the area rivaled programs like Chardon, Lake Catholic and Wickliffe. Chardon advanced to a Division II district final before losing to Struthers in the title game.
“One of the main goals is to give some of the new guys a taste of what they’re going through to the next level,” Bowser said. “I actually signed three freshmen for a college game. And they really get a taste of the reality of the speed of the game, the physicality of the game – things that go with it. “
The goal of the three regional teams playing at Perry was to improve before the 2021-22 school year. And all three coaches believe they have achieved this goal.
“You don’t define that in Game 1,” Gustin said. “It’s put in place in the summer through games and training.”
The high school basketball season begins November 24.