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Courts heat up in June at Placer

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman Guest Columnist
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Summer in Auburn — for most teenagers it means trips to the American River, sleeping in, hanging with friends, and shopping at the mall. Not so if you are a varsity high school basketball player. Whether you play for Del Oro, Bear River, Colfax, or Placer, the month of June is your season of sweat. For Placer varsity athletes on the girls’ and boys’ basketball team, the summer season has already begun. Over the course of the next 20 days, these athletes will play 28 to 30 games. On some of these days, their team will play up to four games. The girls’ team will play in tournaments hosted by Whitney, Woodcreek, and Chico. Tony Camilluci, head coach of Placer’s girls basketball team, struggles with the intensity of this season of sweat. “There are no crowds in the stands, no bands, just your team in a gym that will often reach 100 degrees,” Camillucci said. “Our last tournament will be in Chico. By the end of June, Chico is sweltering. It’s a time where I found out what kids are dedicated and willing to make the sacrifice to be part of the team. Most kids realize the sacrifice that must be made in order to be competitive in the winter.” Forged in a crucible of heat, fatigue, team sacrifice and teenage energy, Camilluci is looking for leadership from returning point guard Kayla Reeves, and shooting guard Kelsey Lardner. He also was pleased with Melissa Manning who has, “become serious about basketball.” Rounding out his early observations of his Hillgals, Camilluci mentioned the important role Bethany Feis will play at the post this year. “I like to end the summer season by the end of June,” Camillucci said. “It gives the kids July off to have a vacation. They need a break so they can be teenagers for a while.” Terry Tangney, former boys’ basketball coach at Placer and current assistant coach at Woodcreek High School is also worried about the effect of summer season on athletes. “I am concerned that there is overkill,” he said. “Some of these kids play for their high school and AAU teams. What is the mental strain on a kid who plays for different coaches over the summer? There is more chance of injuries and mental strain. Are we going backwards by over-working these kids in such a short period of time?” The Placer boys basketball team just finished a successful tournament in Chico this past weekend. They went 7-2, defeating Pleasant Valley and Chico. Placer was fortunate to have played in Chico during unseasonably cool temperatures. The gyms at Chico are notorious for their intense heat and humidity. Michael Jensen, a two-year varsity point guard, was pleased with the performance of his team. “I thought we played really well,” Jensen said. “Darren Centi came into his own at point guard. Josh Klem was Klem. He dominated. I was also really pleased with our new offense.” Jensen, a point guard the past two years, has been moved to shooting guard, a more natural position for his abilities. Centi, the JV point guard this past year, has impressed his teammates with his quickness and leadership on the court. When asked about the intensity of summer ball, Jensen saw both sides of the issue. “The positive is we get to play lots of games, and the carry-over from one game to the next is helpful,” Jensen said. “The downside is the fatigue. We played three games on Friday, our last being at 10 p.m. We woke up the next morning and there wasn’t much fuel left in the tank.” While no one but the players, coaches, and parents will keep track of the wins and losses during June, and there will be no official record of the team’s success, summer is an excellent barometer of success during the winter. The great programs will dominate during the summer. Schools like Rocklin, Sacramento and Folsom will lose only a handful of games between them. These wins in the summer will surely carry over to the winter. Thus, it’s encouraging to see the early success of Placer boys’ basketball. A 7-2 record in a high caliber tournament is a good sign. Last years’ team struggled during the summer and their struggles carried over into the season. Placer’s success during the season of sweat might be the first sign of a strong season this winter.