Summer basketball directs teamwork: West St. John girls gear up for River Parish league

Published 12:05 am Saturday, June 2, 2018

EDGARD — A powerful basketball season begins nearly six months in advance, according to Nazel Breaux, a rising junior at West St. John High School.

This month, Breaux is lifting weights, putting up shots and building camaraderie with teammates on the court through the River Parish girls summer basketball league.

With no graduating seniors leaving the team this summer, Breaux is familiar with how the Lady Rams operate. She sees extra practice as a path to more effective teamwork, ideally culminating in a playoff run that extends past regional competition.

“We’re going to be great next season,” Breaux said. “Last year, we were good, and we were just getting started. By the time [summer league] is over, we should be stronger, and we’ll know how to play better with each other.”

Head coach Lester Smith said star players Breaux, rising senior Sevante Hamilton and rising junior Kylie Adams are returning for summer league, and he looks forward to seeing them lead and assist more inexperienced players.

Record keeping and high stakes gameplay aren’t factors in summer basketball, according to Smith.

“Instead of practicing against yourself, you’re practicing against other teams,” Smith said. “We’re just out there to play, and it gives girls who might not have had an opportunity to play during the regular season a chance to step up and develop their skills.”

In past years, West St. John has participated in summer leagues centered in New Orleans East, Smith said. Summer 2017 marked the Lady Rams’ return to the River Parish league after a long absence.

Each week through June, West St. John will compete against Riverside Academy, St. Charles Catholic, Lutcher and Donaldsonville at various sites around the River Region.

“We brought our summer program back to the River Parishes because it gives you an opportunity to play at your own site and build up your program locally,” Smith said.

The Lady Rams kick off summer league competition with a 6 p.m. Tuesday game against the Lady Rebels at Riverside Academy.

Other games are Thursday at Donaldsonville, June 12 at West St. John, June 14 at St. Charles Catholic, June 18 at Lutcher, June 21 at Riverside Academy, June 25, location to be determined, and June 27 at Lutcher.

Smith said summer games are simple and straightforward, with a running clock counting down two 20-minute halves.

Neither West St. John or Riverside Academy are entering the game with a specific strategy.

Riverside Academy girls basketball coach Kevin Dizer said his only vision for the summer is giving the girls a chance to come together as a team.

“It’s completely different from the regular season,” Dizer said. “We’re not doing any type of scheme. We’re not running a lot of plays. I’m not even interested in putting the best on the court. All of the girls will have an opportunity to play.”

According to Dizer, summer basketball opportunities for Riverside Academy, West St. John and other local schools indicate a growing focus on girls sports.

“When I was growing up in high school, girls didn’t play during the summer,” Dizer said. “It shows you the sport is rising.”