Northshore junior Cherie Spencer calmly took the ball up the court.
The 5-foot-10 guard played at a Tulane camp earlier in the day, and now, she was adding to her busy summer schedule by competing in the Salmen Lady Spartan Summer HoopFest on June 5.
The result of the possession was a quick pass to sophomore guard Payton Rowbatham, who drained a long 3-pointer, as the Panthers defeated host Salmen, 37-24, in the final game of the opening day.
“Payton’s role is definitely huge for us. She knocks down shots for us. When I’m off, she’s on, and when she’s off, I’m on. We’re helping each other grow,” Spencer said. “We’re just trying to get into the new groove of us playing defense and offense together as a team.”
That sentiment was echoed throughout the opening day of the summer league, which features 10 teams. Each game consists of two 15-minute running time halves as teams play on Mondays and Wednesdays through June 28.
Salmen coach Daryl Thomas said summer league serves an important purpose.
“The biggest thing we’re looking to get out of it is experience,” Thomas said. “As a coach, the wins and losses in summer league matter, but they really don’t matter. It’s all about getting experience and growing and playing ball. We’ve got a lot of girls. We’re young, so it’s all about getting time on the court.”
St. Scholastica dropped a close 28-26 game to Northshore earlier in the day as the Panthers rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half.
The Doves also have a young team. St. Scholastica does have a pair of starters returning in juniors Emilee Duet and Addison Pontiff.
“Right now, we’re just trying to build as a team because we have a lot of new people,” Duet said. “We’re just trying to build chemistry with them. There’s a lot of growth already in the first two games. We’re just building to a good season.”
Pontiff agreed: “We just need more practice. That’s why we’re here. Once they get the experience of playing against varsity competition, they’ll grow as their own player. And we’ll keep building as a team.”
Duet and Pontiff are also improving. The duo has been playing together since they were 7, but they are using the summer league to continue to refine their bond.
“We bounce ideas off each other, and it helps the team grow,” Pontiff said. “We can teach the new players, and we both keep growing. We’re just working to get better.”
Other teams playing in the league include Slidell, Pope John Paul II, Chapelle, Phoenix, Bogalusa, Madison Prep and Picayune.