Bryan County High School Hosts Women’s Basketball Games at Summer Jam
PEMBROKE – Summer jam can have different connotations. For some that might mean a gathering at Tybee Island, for others a jazz festival at Forsyth Park.
In Pembroke, that means a two-day basketball extravaganza called Summer Jam, started 15 years ago by Bryan County High School girls’ basketball coach Mario Mincey, which brings together girls’ teams from a vast region.
This year, for example, the recent event featured 28 teams playing 53 games starting at 9:30 a.m. and ending at dinnertime. Not all teams participated on both days, but those that did had all the time they wanted.
“That first year we did that, we had seven teams,” Mincey said. “Now we are refusing teams. We could easily extend it to three days.
More hoops:Bryan County Girls’ Coach Helps Players Find College Playing Spots
Soft ball :The best players to watch in the Greater Savannah area for the 2022 season
Field teams ranged from Class A teams at 7A Richmond Hill and Camden County. Statesboro, Brunswick, Portal, Bradwell Institute, South Effingham, Savannah High, Metter, Vidalia and Baldwin County are just a few of the teams in the field.
“It gives teams a chance to play teams they’ll never see in the regular season,” Mincey said. “It gives small school players a chance to see how they stack up against big school kids, and they get a chance to play against kids who are already committed to playing college basketball.
“Children are also exposed to college coaches. We will usually have five to seven varsity coaches here and we also broadcast the games so those who cannot attend can watch.
Bryan County and Richmond Hill, for example, played eight games (four a day) and would no doubt have played more had the schedule permitted. The games were played at high school, Bryan County Middle School, and Bryan County Elementary School gymnasiums.
“You start to get a little tired in Game 4,” Redskins sophomore Ashanti Brown said, “but you’re really never too tired to play. We live for that.
For the 5-foot-8 Brown — who started for Bryan County as a rookie last year and led the team in rebounds and blocked shots — summer games are crucial to his development.
“I didn’t start playing basketball until seventh grade,” said Brown, also the fastest girl in school, as evidenced by her qualification for the GHSA Class A track and field competition at the 200 meters. “I need this to get better. It gives me a chance to play against high school girls and I find out what I need to work on.
“It’s more game experience for me, and the summer games give us the opportunity to build team chemistry,” Brown said. “We’re going to have a lot of new players this year, so we’re learning a lot about each other.”
Rising senior Kenzie Stucker led the Redskins in points last year, but still played somewhat in the shadow of three teammates who signed to play in college.
Stucker, a skilled shooting guard who plays tenacious defense, is on scouts’ radar. Summer exposure against bigger schools can only boost his prospects.
Summer school is in session
Summer games are important for players looking to improve and for coaches to assess incoming and outgoing talent. Starting positions can be won or lost in June and July, so the action on the pitch saw players give their all.
Once school starts in early August, practices cannot take place until October 24, with the season starting three weeks later on November 11.
Some teams can play more than 30 games in the summer. Former Bryan County star Olanna Rawls, now Columbus State University’s second-leading scorer, once estimated that including the travel ball, she played about 70 games this summer.
Wildcats news:Richmond Hill High School hires three coaches to support successful programs
Mincey and Richmond Hill coach Sarah Jones also played her junior varsity teams against varsity teams. Mincey actually had three rising eighth graders on the floor with his JV players.
All matches were officiated by GHSA officials. Pretty much the only thing missing was a 35-second stopwatch, which will be in effect this coming season.
Jones, who only lost two players from last season’s team, said summer basketball gives freshmen a chance to come in and learn the system, the culture of the program and to have the opportunity to compete with top talent.
“That’s where you start to build relationships and chemistry,” Jones said. “You improve as a team and learn from game to game. If we didn’t have summer, there would be so much to do in such a short time if we had to wait until October.
“It’s always a good time to be in the gym.”