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Basketball: Brainerd teams back in the gym for summer

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Brainerd Warrior Kylie Johnson prepares to shoot Tuesday, July 7, during practice at Forestview Middle School. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd boys head basketball coach Charlie Schoeck did not expect to be having summer workouts outside at Berrywood Park in Baxter.

However, with COVID-19 closing school facilities, the gyms were closed and the park had the only hoops available to them practice.

On Wednesday, July 1, school facilities did open and that meant both girls and boys summer basketball could finally play on the hardwood inside.

There was relief from both Schoeck and girls head basketball coach Troy Nelson last week about being able to do normal drills again.

“We’ve been outside since we were able to start on June 15th,” Schoeck said. “It was kind of cool to drive out to the parks and see the kids play outside. The draw is we only had two hoops to work with. So it was good to get in a facility with 16 hoops.”

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Even though they are allowed to practice, there are still restrictions. They can intersquad scrimmage, but they try to make sure no more than 25 kids are together at a time.

Players bring their own basketball for individual skill work and Schoeck has a few game balls he uses for team drills and scrimmages. Schoeck santizes the ball after each use.

A big loss for summer basketball is no team camps. The only live basketball will have to be intrasquad scrimmages.

“Keeping the spacing when we come in and hand sanitizing and spacing during the drills is the big difference,” Nelson said. “But kids are excited to be in the gym right now which is exciting to see. They haven’t been able to do their sports for quite awhile.”

Schoeck doesn’t mind not having summer games can give a misrepresentation of where your team is at.

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Brainerd Warrior Griffin Rushin practices his ball handling skills Tuesday, July 7, during practice at Forestview Middle School. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“It’ll be interesting to see after the summer if we think it made much of a difference,” Schoeck said. “It’s always a little hit or miss when it comes to the summer. You maybe get a false sense of how much work you need to do. You show up to these games and everyone is missing guys, so it’s hard to gauge the competition. We are all in the same boat though.”

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Nelson echoed most of what Schoeck said, and added that summertime for basketball is mostly dedicated to individual skill work.

“The kids love to play the games, but we still get the skill work which is the main focus of our summer work anyway,” Nelson said.

Schoeck hasn’t been too discouraged about getting started late because he knows every other program has to do the same.

“We are just trying to roll with the punches and ride the wave wherever it goes,” Schoeck said. “We had a plan back in March as far as weight room and on court, but it obviously got a wrench thrown in for all of us.”

The basketball team has been lifting over at the Essentia Health Sports Center in pods to be safe.

“We have two makeshift weight rooms in there and there are three different sessions with four different groups — two in the weight room and two in the parking lot,” Schoeck said.

Both Nelson and Schoeck have players that play AAU. Even though there have been no tournaments in Minnesota some programs have gone out of state to get some games in.

Nelson said he is a planner so he’s had schedules ready and it’s nice to finally use one.

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“You’ve had to do a bunch of adjustments and it’s nice to be together and we can start to improve,” Nelson said. “You have to make the best of what’s happening.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

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