The end of a school year usually means time at the beach or pool. While this is true in most cases, for the players of the Madison Southern and Berea boys’ basketball teams, the early part of summer break meant hitting the gym as both squads saw extensive action.
While the summer wins and losses won’t mean a lot come December, coaches Austin Newton (Madison Southern) and Eric Swords (Berea) said the games afforded them a chance to evaluate players and for the players, any game action is a plus.
“The month of June is used to compete and play in games and camps around the area,” Newton said. “This is a time for us to practice and prepare for game situations and then go out and execute what we have worked on.”
Overall, Southern finished the summer with a 13-4 record in varsity action, Newton said.
“The last couple weeks of June, we were playing without three key contributors,” he added. “This was a great opportunity for others that didn’t play as much last year to step in and get some great experience. We understand that our summer record doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I’m proud of how we found ways to win games.”
Berea also had a successful summer season, record-wise, finishing 16-9, and Swords said he is pleased with the team’s depth.
“It’s hard to base summer progress on the record because you have guys in and out,” he said. “I was very pleased with the effort we had all summer. Our decision-making is getting better, and we will continue to work on fundamentals going forward.”
Both coaches had players who stepped up and showed improvement in their games.
“We have had a few surprises. Jayden Smith has improved a ton, Timmy Thompson has brought a great energy, and Kobe Combs has found a solid role,” Swords said.
The same held true of Southern.
“Rising junior Jayden Adams and rising Sophomores Walt Smith and Nate Turner were pleasant surprises this summer,” Newton said. “Our starting point guard from last year, Britten Robinson, has already signed a Division I baseball scholarship at East Tennessee State University and was out most of the summer playing baseball. Jayden and Walt came in this summer and really controlled our offense in his absence this summer. Nate is a very skilled big man that can stretch the floor with his shooting and passing ability.”
Looking ahead, the teams, along with all sports, were in a dead period until last Tuesday. Afterward, both teams began participating in strength and conditioning.
“We will take these two weeks and get refreshed and rest our bodies,” Newton said. “July will be all about the weight room and individual skill work and getting our bodies in the best shape possible.”