Basketball looks to improve in June

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The Madisonville basketball team continues to work on improving their game along with a number of other programs in the area this offseason in the Brazos Valley Summer Basketball League.

“This is a collaborative effort of a group of high school varsity coaches looking to create an opportunity for our players and teams to improve over the summer,” said Madisonville varsity basketball coach Chris Reid. “We would like to have a varsity and JV division, but we decided to go with varsity only due to moderate participation.”

The schools involved in the Brazos Valley Summer Basketball League are Madisonville, North Zulch, Anderson-Shrio, Centerville, Franklin, Hearne, Iola, Leon and Normangee. Each team plays two games on Monday nights throughout June, with the location shifting to a different gym each week.

Reid highlighted the importance of participation in competitive game atmospheres during the offseason as well as individual skill development. On top of the summer league, Madisonville has hosted open gyms to give players a chance to hone their skills on the court.

“Most of our athletes play more than one sport, which greatly limits basketball developmental time during school hours outside of the season,” said Reid. “It also gives us an opportunity to evaluate players and team chemistry. We start just days after the conclusion of football season, so the last impression on my mind is often what I observe in open gym and league play over the spring and summer.”

While Reid certainly encourages his players to join the summer squad, UIL rules define any basketball activity outside of the season to be strictly optional.

“All we can do is create the opportunity for them,” said Reid. “One thing is for sure: it is impossible to improve in this sport if you do not work between February and November. To me, it is always great to see kids who show a strong work ethic and desire to improve.”

The UIL also prohibits school coaches to coach their teams outside of the season. Reid chose Madisonville High School graduate Cyrus Byrd (Class of 1999) to run the summer squad for his Mustangs.

“From youth courts to local parks, I noticed (Byrd) volunteering his time to help kids improve as well as his heart for kids in general,” said Reid. “When I approached him for the job, he agreed without hesitation. Schools and communities must meet halfway for our kids to be successful, so it is always such a blessing to have dedicated alumni who want to help our kids and support the athletic programs.”

Madisonville’s summer league roster consists of 10 players: Jeremiah Gilbert, Aaron Nellums, Reyshawn Moore, Christian Clapp, Tyrece Merchant, Armando Juarez, Ja’Terryan Roundtree, James Randall, Darius Morning and Doug’kyrn Johnson.

Nellums is back on the court after he was sidelined last season due to a knee injury. Gilbert is a returning varsity guard who is becoming a consistent threat from beyond the arc. Moore, Juarez, Clapp and Merchant were members of last year’s JV squad while freshmen Roundtree, Randall, Morning and Johnson stepped up to compete when they heard the summer team was short on players.

“All of these young men have been consistent in attending open gym and participating in summer league play,” said Reid. “This is very encouraging because we have eight varsity roster spots to fill from last year.”

The team’s next summer league matchups will come on Monday night at Leon High School. The Mustangs will take on Snook at 5 p.m. and Franklin at 7:30 p.m. Stats are not recorded for summer league competitions.

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