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THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Summer of COVID forced area girls basketball teams to pivot

| December 3, 2020 1:30 AM

COVID-19 might have wiped out season of summer league games and tournaments for area high school basketball players.

But some of the area's girls basketball coaches didn't seem to mind, with what they were left to do following the coronavirus restrictions.

"We didn't get to play anybody, but we got to practice 30-35 times," Lake City coach James Anderson said. "It was great for some of our kids; it's exactly what they needed."

"I felt it was a part of high school basketball that was missing," added Anderson, in his fourth season as Timberwolves coach. "I wouldn't call it a setback at all."

"I think it almost helped us, just working on skill stuff," said Marc Allert, in his 10th season as Post Falls girls coach. "The kids don't like it; they want to play. But I think we got better."

AT TIMBERLAKE, the Tigers had no summer league games and no summer practices, but did have a few open gyms in June.

"It was the quietest offseason we've ever had," said Matt Miller, in his 16th season as Timberlake girls coach, and 17th overall as a head coach.

Steve Seymour, in his 26th season as coach of Lakeland's girls, said the Hawks worked on drills for about four weeks.

"We did a lot of shooting, a lot of ballhandling, not as much scrimmaging," Seymour said. "It was OK with me. The kids, it drove them nuts, because they wanted to scrimmage."

Nicole Symons, in her second season at Coeur d'Alene, was thinking of the future when she was asked the impact of no summer league games this year for many of her players.

"We have seven seniors," she said. "I was hoping to get some of my incoming freshmen some more experience, to bridge that gap when the seniors left."

RIGHT NOW teams are playing in front of no fans — other than JV kids hanging around for the varsity games.

Eventually, schools are hopeful parents or other close family members will be allowed in. That's good for families, bad for coaches who might not want people other than their players hearing what they have to say in a mostly quiet gym.

"The good thing is we've got masks on, so it will muffle it a little bit," Allert said with a laugh.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.