Senior leadership paving the way for RV boys basketball this summer
Like people and snowflakes, no two high school classes are quite alike. There may be some classes loaded with singular talents; others will be full of role players, and if this summer is any indication, the senior class on the Royal Valley High School boys basketball team will be loaded with workhorses in the 2015-2016 season.
Since the RVHS team camp back in May, Panther coach Keith Pelton noted his seniors have been setting a sterling example. The upperclassmen have made a commitment to changing the culture within the basketball program for the better and have been following through this summer.
More accountability is something that Pelton said should help his players make those changes and it paid dividends in the camp environment.
“We had great leadership with the upperclassmen and what we’re trying to do,” Pelton said. “We really got after it and worked hard.”
Also great was the participation, according to Pelton, from the upperclassmen and underclassmen alike. Even better, the coach noted the Panther players dedicated more of their time to individual workouts through the summer, which he said are integral to offseason progress.
“They came in there and they worked on their individual skills and how they work within the team framework and that’s kind of what we want to translate over into our summer league,” Pelton said.
Royal Valley plays in the Kaw Valley summer league over the months of June and July against teams from Onaga, Rossville, Wamego, Lyndon, Holton, Silver Lake, Wabaunsee, Rock Creek, Osage City, Jeff West, Council Grove, Burlingame, St. Marys, Santa Fe Trail and Mission Valley.
It’s something Pelton strongly encourages his players to take part in not only because it allows his players to see some different competition than what they regularly face during the high school season, but also because it gives them a sense of where they fit into the puzzle in a grander scheme.
“I think it’s important. It fosters unity and chemistry. Kids learn and understand what each other can do,” Pelton said. “One thing we try to stress is they have to know their own roles, but they also have to know the roles of their teammates; what they can do and what they can’t do, so they don’t put their teammates in situations that they can’t do what they’re capable of.”
Additionally, some players got the opportunity to fill a lot of different roles over the course of the summer. Not all 11 players could always make it to summer league competition, so sometimes the Panthers had to make do with six players and Pelton said that forced him to do some tinkering, which could help some players adjust to secondary roles and provide some versatility this coming winter.
For the team’s final two games, Royal Valley was at full-strength with all 11 players. While it didn’t ultimately lead to wins against either Council Grove or Rock Creek, it did paint a potentially more accurate picture of what the Panthers could be working with this winter, especially in a back-and-forth, frenetic game against the Braves.
“Our last two games are probably a better indicator because we had everybody there. There were some nights we had six people there and definitely had to put kids in different roles in those situations,” Pelton said.
Looking at the big picture, the RVHS boys team shouldn’t have to do much of that this season as most of the team returns intact from a season ago. The biggest change will be felt in the post, where the Panthers lost two key varsity contributors to graduation.
Plenty of the returning upperclassmen have good experience though and, more than that, they haven’t been resting on their laurels.
Several of the seniors are multi-sport athletes, Pelton noted. They get up for morning weights, move on to individual basketball workouts, get in some seven-on-seven football action, go to work and then have summer league games at night.
Pelton said he’s tried giving his players days off, but they just won’t take them. With the players taking ownership like that this summer while also working on ways to help themselves and the team, Pelton is hoping that leads to good things on the court this winter and lights a fire under some younger players.
“Hopefully that’s the legacy they leave behind, so those other younger kids will start committing, coming in and putting the time in,” Pelton said. “It’s not just a November to February sport. They have to put some time in if they want to do something.”
This summer, the Panthers clearly have and have a few more opportunities to do something through MAYB competition and open gym in the fall. Pelton noted the coaches at RVHS are pretty collaborative about prepping the athletes for each season, so he is confident his players will be ready to start the high school basketball season once winter rolls around.
Panthers taking part in the Kaw Valley summer league included Derrick Barger, Jarrett Roy, Lucas Broxterman, Nick Ehrhart, Noah Rottinghaus, Jacob Rottinghaus, Kwaki Spoonhunter, Masen Spoonhunter, Derek Linn, Ian Lee and Kyle Stithem. Royal Valley finished .500 overall in the league hosted by Rossville and St. Marys high schools.