High schools

Snow break alters routines of area basketball teams

Updated: 2014-02-07T03:42:51Z

By SAM MCDOWELL

The Kansas City Star

It wasn’t that long ago that a string of snow days equated to an unexpected vacation for high school athletes. Or at least some extra free time to mentally and physically relax.

Not anymore.

With a bevy of games postponed this week and schools forbidding their teams to practice in the interim, local high school basketball coaches were forced to get creative in their efforts to keep players sharp.

Fort Osage boys coach Josh Wilson, for example, gave his players the equivalent of homework while school was out of session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“They have to spend at least an hour every day watching film,” Wilson said. “That’s the deal we made.”

If it sounds like an easy assignment to skip, well, it isn’t.

Here’s how it works: Using the website Hudl, coaches can add, edit and cut game film. Each post automatically sends notifications to players’ email inboxes. Coaches can track how long kids are watching the videos and require them to send feedback based on what they’ve seen.

Liberty North boys coach Chris McCabe used a similar approach with his team. McCabe was particularly persistent his players watch film on Grandview. The two teams will play at 8 p.m. Friday with first place in the Suburban Blue Conference on the line.

Liberty North practiced Thursday after missing Tuesday and Wednesday because of the snowstorm.

“We usually spend Thursday hitting heavy on what the opponent brings, but not being out there the past two days, we needed to make sure we were sharp rather than worry about Grandview,” McCabe said. “We spent a lot more time (Thursday) refining ourselves than we usually would the day before a game.”

Indeed, the break made for less-than-ideal timing for several area schools with important games Friday.

Leavenworth, the top-ranked girls team in The Star’s big-class poll, is set to face third-ranked Olathe South on Friday in a battle of powerhouses.

In the midst of a breakthrough season, the Lee’s Summit boys travel to face Blue Springs South at 7 p.m. Friday. Both teams are undefeated in the Suburban Gold Conference and ranked in the top-10 in The Star’s big-class boys poll.

Lee’s Summit practiced Thursday after being held off the court the previous two days, but it was forced to condense its scouting for two separate opponents into one practice session. After facing Blue Springs South on Friday, the Tigers will play host to another conference foe, Raymore-Peculiar, on Saturday after the matchup was postponed earlier this week.

“It’s kind of a weird deal, but I actually think we had one of our better practices of the winter,” said Lee's Summit junior Drew Lock, the team’s leading scorer. “You could tell everyone is focused on the next two days because we realize how big this opportunity is for us if we want to compete for a conference championship.”

Lee’s Summit practiced so well, in fact, that Lock is hoping to convince the Tigers coaching staff these two-day breaks should become part of the normal routine in the future.

“I might have to bring that up with Coach (Blake) Little,” Lock quipped.

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