Sports

What a difference a summer makes

Entering the summer months, Mike Allen wasn’t sure what type of basketball team he would have when the prep basketball season starts in fourth months.

The South Kitsap girls basketball coach knew he’d have tough shoes to fill with the graduation of starters Sarah Groves, Rebekah Proctor and Olivia Bui.

But as the girls summer season concludes this weekend at the Olympic College Summer League tournament, Allen said he doesn’t have the same sense of uneasiness he felt only two months ago.

SK (6-2) enters the league tournament tied atop the standings with the CK Lightning and CK Mirage.

SK has also tasted its share of losses, going 1-5 at a week-long camp at the University of Portland last week.

“While wins are good, the goal of the summer is to get everybody the chance to play,” Allen said. “The focus is to get them in and see what they can do.”

While returning varsity players like Loni Tostenrude and Leah Kendrick played to expectations, Allen said the highlight of the summer was the much-improved play of guard Jamie McLean, who will be a junior.

McLean, mostly a junior varsity player last year, proved this summer she could be a force at the varsity level.

“Jamie McLean has been huge for us this summer,” Allen said. “I’ve never had a kid improve so much over one year. She was scoring between 10 and 12 points per game and dishing out assists.”

While she’s more comfortable as an off-guard, Allen said McLean may have to share point guard duties because of the departure of senior-to-be Sharon Daly, a key varsity member last year who is moving to New York.

Allen said he has also been pleased with the play of Kendrick, who made great strides at varsity last year as a sophomore.

“She led our team in scoring this summer,” Allen said. “She’s done a nice job for us.”

Allen said he worked with a core of about 20 players this summer.

While the summer doesn’t determine who makes the varsity team, Allen said players who utilize summer ball can get ahead of other players.

“(Summer ball) definitely helps the kids I haven’t seen before,” he said.

On the other hand, there are some varsity players who didn’t play summer ball.

While he doesn’t hold that against them, Allen said there are players who have made up ground because of summer basketball.

“We’ve played 37 games this summer,” Allen said. “That’s two seasons rolled into one summer.”

Overall, Allen said the summer has given him a much better idea of what type of team he’ll have to work with in four months.

“It’s been a really fun summer,” he said. “I’m very excited about the season.”

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