Summer hoops give teams shot to grow
Win or lose, and score wasn't being kept between Lee County and Grace Christian on the basketball court Tuesday evening, nothing but positives came from the first night of the first season of the Sanford Area Summer League as the girls basketball league debuted at Lee County's two gyms.
Southern Lee and Northwood were in action as well, with all four squads playing a doubleheader. Cape Fear, Western Harnett and Jordan will take turns in the league's schedule as well through the next few weeks. It's all about gaining experience, says Lee County head coach Ike Godfrey, before the games count come November.
"I'm tickled to death about having the summer league," Godfrey said.
"We've never been able to get any kind of summer program going," he said. "Last year, we'd get two or three girls at a time in here, but nothing really regular."
While by no means an official game between the Lady Yellow Jackets and Lady Crusaders, it was a perfect platform for teaching with full-speed play to test it out right away.
Lee County, having lost six seniors and having a few varsity returners out, and Grace Christian traded runs of scoring, with the Lady Jackets seemingly having the better of it through most of the 40 minutes of running time.
The Lady Crusaders, NCISAA 1A state runners-up last February, were of course without graduated seniors, including all-state guard Brooke Strickland, and without leading scorer and fellow all-state guard Anna Murr, due to injury.
In both cases, new spots in the lineup made for increased teaching chances.
"They just need playing time, to be out there in games," Godfrey said.
"Between the league and camps, we'll play about 27 games this summer. We're learning basketball IQ, trying to get smarter about the game," he said.
LaQuita Wilson, a returning backcourt starter, scored well driving to the basket for the Lady Jackets. Guard Shantel Bennett and post player Tashari Tucker, both newcomers from JV a season ago, played well, Bennett also slashing and driving while Tucker made a few nice hoops in the low post.
Point guard Alexis Ross, who was a leader, with frequent double-doubles or better last season as a freshman, played her usual all-around game for the Lady Crusaders.
With no pressure, and no score, both coaches rotated reserves frequently. The more playing time was spread around, the better.
Lee County will host four more summer league games Thursday, with Grace Christian, Northwood and Cape Fear joining in doubleheaders.
This weekend, Godfrey is taking his Lady Yellow Jackets to a team camp at UNC Charlotte. Lee County will play seven games over the weekend.