Seneca Valley, Mars, Butler girls basketball programs come together for summer drills
They are rivals geographically, but getting better at basketball and having some fun doing it trumped all else for the Seneca Valley, Mars and Butler girls varsity basketball teams.
The programs held joint practices throughout the summer.
“Because of some maintenance projects at Mars, the campus is closed at 3 p.m. and Seneca Valley's campus closes up at 5 p.m., so we didn't have a gym to use in the evening,” said Rob Lombardo, Seneca Valley's girls coach. “Many of the administration work four, 10-hour days, so Friday through Sunday are tough, too.”
With several of his players unable to make early-morning open gyms, Lombardo spoke to Mars' head coach Tony Howard about a joint venture.
“We have use of some local parks to do some things in the evenings, but Tony was able to reserve the outdoor courts at Mars every Tuesday in July and August,” Lombardo said.
Each Tuesday, the coaches and more than 20 players meet at Mars and hold what is essentially a joint practice. Freshman players all the way up to seniors participate in drills led by each coach. Then, rather than square off as Mars versus Butler, or Seneca Valley versus Mars, the girls do a school-yard pickup to select teams and practice the skills they have learned.
“It is beneficial to the kids to mix it up and play with different players,” Butler assistant coach Ashley Nocera said. “It helps our players get used to playing against different age and skill levels.
“As a coach, I like to be out of the gym and doing things other than just running drills.”
Playing with new people definitely has its advantages, and summer is the perfect time to work on new aspects of your game.
“This has been great, and it is good to mix with the other teams,” said Sara Getsy, a senior point guard for Mars. “It really helps with getting to learn how to play with different styles of players. It helps to play against kids from bigger schools. It helps us get ready for our section.”
Another senior, Seneca Valley's Meghan Hess, liked learning the drills the other coaches had to offer.
“We did theirs and they did ours, and it is a good time,” Hess said. “As a senior, one of the goals is to have other players learn from you.”
The format is old school, according to Lombardo. The teams are picked, and winners stay on the court.
As far as competition during the season, Lombardo said his squad and Butler, both in the same section, aren't worried about sharing too much information.
“I know what Dorothea (Epps) is going to do, and she knows what I am going to do,” Lombardo said. “This is about teaching and learning and giving more quality playing time to girls who may not get it during the season. We want the kids to have fun.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.