CRESTVIEW — June was a busy month for the Shoal River Middle School boys basketball team.
The Mustangs, who hosted a summer league on Monday evenings, managed to play eight games in four weeks. They also had workouts throughout the month.
More than 30 players participated in the June practices.
“We’ve got probably 22 kids working out on the varsity,” coach Mitch Buckelew said. “And I’ve got 11 or 12 working out on the incoming sixth-grade team. So we are pleased with kids showing an interest in coming over to us from the elementary schools and all.”
Buckelew saw enough positives from his team to be cautiously optimistic as the 2013-14 season approaches. “We’ve had a good summer,” he said. “We’ve had some new kids out that have come out in eighth grade. The question is how quick can they catch on. “If they can jump in there and make a difference, then it’s good. We’ve got a good group of seventh graders that have played a lot for us this summer. We have some potential.”
Buckelew cited some typical concerns. “We have to work on some defense and boxing out,” he said, “but I’ve been pleased with the summer. The summer has been good. It has passed fairly quick.
“I think our younger guys had 12 or 15 days they’ve worked out with us. And what we call our varsity — our seventh and eighth grade — had 12, maybe 14 days. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s always that way.”
Buckelew praised the team’s discipline and the players’ way of handling some of the game’s finer points and said the team won’t be excessive, but it will be big enough to compete. He would like to see more fire from the players all of the time. “I think we’ve got to get used to working hard and playing hard the whole time,” he said. “We are used to working hard and playing hard in spurts. What you are trying to work up is the intensity where they are feeling it the whole time.
“You know we are probably going to be deep enough to spell (rest) some kids this year. We can do that, but we’ve just got to get them to get out there and get after it for two, three, four minutes ... whatever they have to give their all — and then we can sub in. I think just the steady consistency to hustle 100 percent of the time, so that’s what we are shooting for.”
Contact News Bulletin Sports Editor Randy Dickson at 682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BigRandle.