JACKSON County hopes playing hoops far from home will help bring this year’s Panther squad closer together.
Jackson County will trek to the University of Virginia-Wisetown for a multi-team summer camp aimed at increasing summer court time and bolstering camaraderie.
“We’re going to play a ton of games, but the main purpose is get these guys away to try to get these guys coming together,” Jackson County boys’ basketball coach Britt Beaver said.
The team is slated to leave today (Thursday).
This offers the rare opportunity for the Panthers to play with a full summer roster. Like with all sports, athletes have been going every which way this summer with different obligations.
Jackson County is coming off a 6-17 season, having lost its top inside presence, Jared Scott, and outside shooter, Kolin Zimmer. Gone also are point guards Richie Rodriguez and Peter Thao. So they’re trying to piece together next year’s squad now.
Jackson County has already played several scrimmages this summer, including a series of games in local gyms last week.
Post player Kevin Lineberger had a “fantastic” four days, Beaver said.
“He did great,” Beaver said. “He was solid.”
Meanwhile, the coach continues to be excited by the play of Mo Wade “who will help a lot at point guard,” Beaver said, adding that Wade is a “heck of player.”
“He’s going to be big for us,” Beaver said.
Adding athletic guard Xavier Harper to that mix will give the Panthers a solid trio for next year.
Others could play roles as well. Jacob Lewis could step into Zimmer’s role as a shooter. Dylan McDonald has demonstrated an ability to get to the basket and handle the ball well. Then there’s Andrew Fogarty, who’s a shooter learning to get his shot off quicker.
Now the bad news: Center Reno Messler apparently broke a bone in his foot and could be sidelined for eight weeks.
But there’s hope for Jackson County’s future.
Beaver said he played “a million young kids” last week. Specifically, he’s referring to a solid group of rising ninth graders exclusively as a junior varsity team.
“They held their own in every game and won several,” Beaver said.
As for the varsity players, the coach said he’s excited about seeing what his group can do at the out-of-state camp this week.
“Hopefully, we’ll have good things in Virginia,” Beaver said. “I hope that brings the kids together.”