Published on 6/15/2012
By Chris Sokoloski
High school basketball season may be five months away, but coaches are already planning and strategizing.
The South Carolina High School League allows teams to participate in 10 game days during the summer.
All four Georgetown County high schools, along with some of the best teams from around the Lower State, are playing in the eighth annual Carvers Bay Summer League.
"We've been lucky," said Carvers Bay coach Jeff Mezzatesta, who organizes the league. "This is the eighth year and it keeps growing. When we started, there were four or five schools. It's grown into probably the biggest high school run summer league in the state of South Carolina."
Most of the coaches split their squads into two or three teams to get the maximum amount of court time for players.
"It's a good tool to evaluate and good competition," said Georgetown High coach Alvin Walker. "It gives me a chance to evaluate some new things I might want to incorporate right now, or never."
"My big thing is I just want to play," Mezzatesta said. "You're not going to get better if you're not playing. We're trying to put in some new looks for next year and I just want to see my kids competitive."
For kids from a small school like Lincoln High in McClellanville, it's a chance to watch the "big boys" play according to their coach.
"There's a big variety of talent here from all over the Lower State," Rodney DeWitt said. "The competition is different, more physical. And our guys get to play guys other than the guys I got."
With an average of 12 40-minute games being played simultaneously at three sites over four days, it takes a lot of organization and about 50 student/volunteers.
"Everything you see is kid run," Mezzatesta said. "That's been one thing that I try really hard to work at. I want it to be kid run, I want it to be kid inspired. Because then they learn how to do community service things and how later on, when they get older they know how to put together things when they're in charge."
The Summer League is also a chance to show off the community.
"It's important for our team, because this is an opportunity for us to showcase Carvers Bay, for us to showcase out school, and allow people to see what it's like out here," Mezzatesta said.
The Bears also played at The Citadel, and have games at Whale Branch, West Florence and Summerville scheduled. They're also taking a trip to the University of South Carolina to catch up with Carvers Bay graduate Carlton Geathers.
Georgetown recently traveled to Francis Marion University to play.
"We're trying to get team unity, trying work with different lineups," Walker said. "Everybody who can play on the JV level can't play on the varsity level.
After a season in which the Bulldogs missed the playoffs, Walker said he has some holes to fill.
"We're all about winning and losing but with this group I still have to build a little bit of confidence in them."
Andrews also played in this week's games, and will join Waccamaw, Georgetown and Carvers Bay on next week's schedule.
The summer league continues Monday and Tuesday. To see the schedule of games, go to the sports section on www.gtowntimes.com and click on the headline "Summer League Returns to Carvers Bay."