Leading the charge into this winter is the Reed girls basketball team in its title defense of last season’s 4A state championship. With a core of the previous group having graduated, the Raiders will focus on retooling during the summer.
“A lot of these girls just need to learn that they’re going to have some added responsibilities next season,” Reed assistant coach Anthony LeSure said. “We’re probably going to have three coming up from our JV team that are probably going to log a lot of minutes next year. To add to another title run they need to learn that they’re going to have to rebound and get out there and play good, hard defense no matter what’s going on.”
In order for the newcomers to get acclimated to the championship level the Raiders insist on playing at, they will have to learn the inner workings of Reed’s schemes.
“To be honest, our system is 90 percent of what we do,” LeSure said. “We have the talent of Gabby (Williams), we have the talent of Tyler (Sumpter), but the system as far as our defense and running our offense is concerned, it is a must. Our system is the majority part of summer and this is what these girls have to learn.”
For the other 4A squad in the Rail City, Spanish Springs will set its targets on again reaching the regional playoffs, but this time around causing some disruptions. The foundation of that goal will be set during the summer months spent in the gym.
“Summer’s a lot of fun because everybody is a little more relaxed and they don’t have school to think about,” Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. “I think you improve your individual skills in the summer because if you’re in the gym you can get a lot of repetition. You can try new things with less pressure. Obviously we want to work on some of our team concepts just through getting more repetitions of running our offense and defensive schemes. It’s an opportunity to work on stuff with less pressure. If you make mistakes, you make mistakes. It doesn’t cost you a game or anything like that.”
While Eckles will be looking for improvements from each of the Cougars, she is expecting a lot from the upperclassmen.
“We always expect leadership from our returners but we have a lot of kids that are going to be seniors. It’s on them about what kind of senior season they want to have,” Eckles said. “I’m a big believer in hard work. You don’t become better by wanting to or talking about it. You get better by getting yourself in the gym and trying to put the ball in the basket. We have a few kids that are really committed to that and we have some younger kids that are showing some interest in that, so we just hope that we continue to get better.”
The ladies are not the only ones looking to develop their game during the summer break. On the boys side, Reed will try to replace a key senior group in order to improve on its playoff run from a season ago while Spanish Springs will attempt to break into the postseason. As for the 3A, the Sparks boys basketball team is determined to make up for getting upset in the opening round of the playoffs, which means more time spent in the Brickhouse.
“We’re just trying to get the kids time with the ball,” Sparks coach Dan Schreiber said. “We’re going Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and picking up different scrimmages and games. We want to get games every week but at the same time spend some time on individual skills.
“I just want the kids to walk away with a better understanding of the game. Especially in the offensive set. We’re spending most of the summer on individual offensive skills like dribbling, shooting, recognizing different angles and how to manipulate the defense to get shots for your teammate. Eighty percent of it is skill work, just working on the basic fundamentals because the system that we’re running, if they don’t have the fundamentals to do it, we can’t run it. It is just a lot of those little things that during the course of the year we can’t spend much time on because we’re doing scouting reports and more team concepts.”
While the Railroader boys have already been taking time in the gym, the Sparks girls are still trying to get a summer program in place. Once they do get something going, Sparks coach Tony Shaw said the attention will be on the essentials.
“Fundamentals. Just some basic fundamentals. Dribbling, shooting, passing,” Shaw said. “We need to have them have just a sense of being on a basketball court. A little bit of everything. Just learning how to play together. Before you can put anything in, they need to begin to understand where to be on the floor. A lot of these young ladies are coming and are new to it all, so that’s what we’re going to try to work on.”