MORRIS – The annual Morris Ladies Shootout began a two-day run Tuesday with a 28-team field, many of which are from the Joliet area.
Coaches use this event and other summer basketball games to get a sneak peek at what they have for the upcoming season, knowing months remain before the regular season begins. The record means nothing over the summer.
“We use this shootout and other summer competitions to judge our incoming girls,” Joliet West coach John Placher said. “You get a real sense of how they can they play on the varsity level.”
The Tigers are coming off a 17-12 season and were impressive in the always-tough Southwest Prairie Conference, as they put together a 10-4 record.
This new West team will have six returners from last year, four of whom saw significant playing time. But the question is, how will three or four sophomores and a freshman fit into the mix?
“We will be a very young team,” Placher said. “We really want to see who has that varsity toughness. Can they compete at that level?
“Another big thing over the summer is to see how they play together, especially when you mix a few veterans in with the younger players. Who meshes together, and who plays well with each other. We won’t be very big, but this group is athletic and has quickness.”
Junior Jazz Evans is coming off an All-SPC season and wants to see this team continue to get better and make it further down the road than in previous seasons.
“I like what I see with our team so far this summer,” Evans said. “We are very athletic, can run the floor and are quick. We don’t have much size, but our athleticism can overcome the height disadvantage.
“Over the summer, you have a lot of free time, and I spend most of it in the gym. Between my trainer at school, AAU ball and this team, it’s basketball, and that is what I want. You must continue to work on your game if you want to get better.
“I want to provide more of a leadership role this season. We are a young team, and I know what the younger players are going through because it is exactly what I went through. I know what it was like to be a freshman and a sophomore on the varsity level.
“The girls that are gone helped me, and now I want to help our young players. We all just need to work together for the common goal of getting better each year.”
One of the few seniors on the West roster is Adriona Lindsey, who realizes this year will be her last for the Tigers.
“I can’t believe this year will be my last in high school,” she said. “When I look back, I can’t believe how fast it all went.
“I want to make the most out of this upcoming season, and that is why this summer is important. It’s an opportunity to stay in basketball condition and work on getting better in every part of the game.
“We have a lot of talent on this team, and we are forming that bond you need to be successful. We are really working together. I am really looking forward to this final season with these girls.”
With a constant improvement over the past few years, Placher believes this team can continue that progression.
“This can be a very competitive team. It will be young, but will compete against anyone,” Placher said. “Toughness is the key. No matter if you are a senior or a freshman, being tough is what we want. That plays such an important role is the success of any team. That toughness will be a key for us when we start the next season.”