Shawnee Heights kicked off its busy month of June participating in a team camp at MidAmerica Nazarene.
Shawnee Heights went 3-2 on the weekend, which featured 22 schools, with wins against 5A state tournament participant Liberal, Olathe North, and Olathe South with losses to Blue Valley Northwest and Lawrence Free State.
“At times we flashed what I think we can be as a team,” head coach Steve Wallace said. “The first few games we were super unselfish moving the ball, but defensively we still have to improve quite a bit containing our guy and getting the help where it needs to be with rotating. Defensively we have a long way to go. Offensively we were really good the first three games of getting the ball moving and being unselfish.”
Shawnee Heights returns its top three scorers in seniors Poncho Freeman, Trey Brown, and Michael Brooks from last year’s 15-7 team. The T-Birds are looking to return to the state tournament after their 2015 appearance, which was the first in 13 years.
Brown, who has been receiving a number of Division II looks, had a 21-point game with six 3-pointers and Brooks had a pair of 20-plus point games.
“Mikey Brooks stood out this weekend,” Wallace said. “He just does a lot of different things and plays hard. “He’s ‘Mr. Consistent’ offensively and defensively. He didn’t shoot many 3s, but he got to the rim really well and had quite a few offensive put-backs. He was definitely one of our leaders out there.”
Freeman made his return to the court after having foot surgery in February. Freeman averaged a team-high 15.9 points and 8.4 rebounds in 19 games last season.
“Probably the biggest thing that stands out is that he has to get back in shape,” Wallace said. “He was pretty limited in what he could do because it was a foot injury so he’s pretty out of shape. He did show flashes of the first-team all-league, double-double guy that we had, but he has a long ways to go in terms of conditioning and I think once he gets in condition he’ll feel a lot more comfortable.”
Fellow seniors Jesse Moss, Tyler Zentner, Dane Grabauskas; juniors Tyler White and Zach Cummings, and sophomores Grant Cooney and Brandon Walker also participated this weekend. A total of seven different players had double-digit scoring outputs.
“Grant Cooney went against bigger, quicker guys, which was good for him and he showed flashes that he might be able to help us with and then another sophomore Brandon Walker and defensively I think he can be really good,” Wallace said. “Offensively he had a real nice touch finishing around the basket so those were two pleasant surprises because they are two young guys played some JV for us (last year), but obviously didn’t play varsity.”
Shawnee Heights will also be participating in team camps at the KAMO Shootout (June 10-12), the University of Arkansas (June 16-18), and Kansas State University (June 25-26).
“We kind of look at this like a training camp like the NFL has, that’s kind of what June for us and the two big focuses for us are becoming a better defensive team and really buying into the defensive end and the second thing is execution,” Wallace said. “Executing on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. If we draw something up in the timeout we’ve got to have all five guys go out there and execute it. If you’re supposed to be on help defense, execute it and be where you’re supposed to be.
“Those are the two things from last season that I think we have to improve on going into this next season.