YORK — June has included a flurry of activity for the York High girls’ basketball program, and coach Paula Blackwell wouldn’t have it any other way.
It began with after-school practices during the last week of school, and ends with Saturday’s University of South Carolina team camp in Columbia.
“We always have a busy June for the total program, including varsity, junior varsity and middle school participants,” Blackwell said.
Team practices were also held the second week in June, including shoot-on-your-own sessions.
Summer activities cranked up in earnest last week, beginning with the Clover Varsity Shootout in the new gym. The team also participated in the York Shootout June 18 and 19, along with teams from Dorman, Spartanburg, Riverside and Andrew Jackson, Clover, Fort Mill and Northwestern.
Blackwell believes the players’ participation in AAU basketball is also making a difference, pointing to the Cougars’ competitive shootout performances as evidence of the team’s improvement.
“Our returning varsity players and the rising ninth-graders from last season’s York Middle School team are meshing together,” she said. “We’re excited about their progress. Their AAU participation is beginning to show.”
Trip McGarity, who coaches the AAU team, lauded the players’ effort.
“We’ve been playing upper level competition, which is good for rising ninth-graders stepping into varsity roles,” McGarity. “The kids are responding.
“We want to do what we can to help Paula’s program. The kids are making progress.”
Blackwell noted that the Cougars were more competitive in this year’s shootouts. York extended Nation Ford to a 35-32 game and defeated Riverside 26-19.
Blackwell said the popularity of the York Shootout speaks for itself.
“Teams call to come back each year,” she said. “We had another strong field. There were quality 4A teams competing in the shootout. Andrew Jackson, a smaller school, played well against the larger schools.”
Blackwell lauded the volunteers who are relied on throughout the two-day event.
And she was impressed with the team’s gritty effort.
This week’s events include a Future Cougars camp, which concluded Thursday.