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Picayune’s girls basketball makes progress during summer games

The Picayune varsity girls basketball team lost a lot of leadership and experience when multiple key players graduated in May.

The summer months would prove to be a testing ground for the squad as the team participated in games against teams at other high schools.

Head Coach Toby Bush wanted to see his athletes improve, and the results have been encouraging.

“We’re trying to get to that mentality that every practice is important and to take advantage of it,” Bush said. “Some players bought into it and were on point every single time.”

The team uses the month of June to work on cohesion and chemistry before going their separate ways. Bush said multiple athletes play travel ball and are on the AAU circuit during the month of July, which can be really beneficial for their growth as a player. The more time they spend practicing, the better they’ll become.

“The more they put into it the more they get out of it,” Bush said.

“Success doesn’t take cash or credit cards, it takes sweat. You give sweat and it’ll pay off.”

There can be some long hours involved in improving as a basketball player, but Bush said the players understand why they work so hard during the summer months.

“Nobody gets better during the season, you get better in the offseason,” Bush said.

“We do this so the games are fun and the winning is fun.”

Practice sessions are intense and streamlined to focus on specific aspects that need improving. Perfecting defensive rotations, setting screens, and cutting to the basket takes time, and the athletes are willing to put in the work necessary.

As an example of that, Bush said that at one point during a storm the power went off in the gym, and that even with the minimal light coming in from the windows the girls still ran their offensive drills.

The repetition paid off, and there wasn’t a single mistake made during that dimly lit drill.

“By the time they were done they were more excited than I was,” Bush said.

“Seeing where we were when we started as compared to where we finished is something they saw and understood.”

Having that familiarity in the offensive system will prove beneficial in crunch time situations where the team tended to struggle last season.

“We played some close games this summer that came down to the last minute, and they were drawing on the experiences they had,” Bush said.

“I let them play off their experiences and rely on themselves to get the job done.”

As a coach, Bush said the more preparation and teaching he does before a game, the less he has to do during those pressure scenarios.

“When the kids are relying on themselves you can sit back and enjoy the game,” Bush said.

“I think we’re pretty close with this team, where they understand those situations.”

The progress the team has made as a whole is promising for Bush and his staff.

Getting better as a team and as individuals means that the team’s goals of winning district and making it to state could be well within reach.

“I’m really excited for this team moving forward and to see what they’ve got when they show back up in August,” Bush said.

Even though the season is months away the athletes are putting the work in now to be better, and Bush said that work will pay off.