Summer 2021 is very different from 2020, as many restrictions related to the pandemic have been lifted. This is true for high school basketball’s summer season as Madison Southern, and Berea Community teams are on the court getting ready for the 2021-2022 basketball season.
Madison Southern Eagles
Coach Austin Newton’s team has hit the ground running, racing out to a 16-2 mark over the last several weeks.
“Our only losses were against North Laurel and Great Crossing,” Newton said. “We have beaten 11th Region opponents Madison Central, Lexington Catholic, and Henry Clay.”
Last weekend, Southern went 2-0, knocking off Danville Christian Academy 37-31 and Bell County, 86-66.
Newton said summer ball is vital to any program, and the upcoming basketball season has a chance to be special.
“We have the potential to do some special things this season if we can continue to mature and get stronger mentally and physically,” he said. “Not having summer ball hurt us last year because we lost 11 seniors the year before. Summer ball allows you to figure out things and try new lineups. We are going to benefit from all the games we are playing this summer.”
Heading into his second year as Lady Eagles Coach, Josh Curtis knows the importance of summer basketball as he is looking to replace a ton of scoring for players who graduated.
“It has been a good summer for us so far,” he said. “We are .500, and every team we’ve played can win their region next season.”
Curtin said the returning players are being asked to step up and take on different roles than they did last year.
“We are asking kids to do things they haven’t been asked to do in the past,” he said. “Each day, we figure out a little bit more about who we are. We have had a different leading scorer almost every game, and I think that many different options will make us that much more difficult to prepare for when the season gets here.”
First-year Berea Pirates Coach Eric Fields said his young players are adjusting well to high school basketball.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids playing that are getting adjusted to the pace at the high-school level,” Fields said. “We are making strides in the right direction to get better, and we are getting into the gym every day.”
Fields said this summer’s goal is to see improvement on the court and in the weight room, as he feels summer basketball will pay dividends when the season rolls around.
“We just have to say focused and stay in the weight room,” he said. “We are getting better, and that’s all that matters to me.”
Berea Lady Pirates Coach Dammian Stepp is more than happy about the opportunity for his team to play summer games this year.
“Last year, we missed all of our summer play, and I feel it had a great impact on our season,” Stepp said. “We will have six seniors on the team this year, which is the most in many years. We expect to have a productive season and look for big things this season.”
Stepp is keeping a keen eye on several areas this summer, including guard play and defense.
“This team is playing well,” he said. “Our guard play has improved since last season, and we seem to be having more success in the post.
“Defensively, we are working to become better defenders,” he continued. “We are using this time to deepen the bench and develop some of our younger players.”