High School-Like Basketball In Middle School

By Jeremy McDonald


SCIO, Ore.–The environment created by Dave Stover feels like as if he is coach girls basketball at Scio High School.

However, this isn’t high school…yet.
Stover is the Head Coach at Scio Middle School for their girls basketball program and his idea from years at the High School level is to bring it to the Middle School level so the girls won’t be as stunned and surprised once they get to that level.
“Yeah that’s the way I run my program at the middle school level, since I have High School experience, I want them to be prepared,” said Stover. “I want it to be very business like, so when next year or the years after whenever they are in High School, they’re not shocked by Game Day and how it goes.
“We prepare just like we were in High School.  We’re very focused, we come in, we do our business and they’re ready to go come Game Day and all of those things.  Have a reporter here, going to tournaments.  All those things are preparing them for the next level.”
At 6-2 and preparing for their home game against Blanchet Catholic Wednesday, the summer training has translated into a solid team performance eight games into the middle school season for the middle school ballers.
“I definitely think it helps, we put a lot of our offense and all of our defense in over the summer so when we got to the school year season, we didn’t really have to revisit it,” said Stover. “We can just input and move on in certain situations of it, and I think that made a huge difference.
“There’s nothing like court time.  I know the girls want to play basketball and I want to practice and I think that’s the huge thing and I think that’s the difference.  The more court time we get, the more that we get to practice, then the easier it is when Game Day comes.”
“It’ll make us work harder, helps us practice and get better,” adds seventh-grader Carrie Jones on the summertime work.
Shea Harrison pressuring Adrien Stover during Monday’s practice at Centennial Elementary School (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)
Several of the eighth graders actually got some playing time with the High School girls over the summertime whenever they weren’t partaking in middle school tournaments during the time.
The experience, said Shea Harrison and Maddy Miitzel, has not just familiarize themselves with what is to come in the next few years, but introduce to what High School basketball is all about once they get there next year.
“That was pretty cool, it was awesome to learn somethings you don’t really get to learn from Middle School ball and a lot tougher competition to get us ready,” smiled Harrison.  “I felt like it helped us get ready for High School because here we’re playing lower levels and there we’re playing with higher levels, so this is kind of keeping us at our level that kind of takes us to another level.”
“There more aggressive,” said Maddy Mitzel.  “It’s fun, but it’s not like this (talking about middle school basketball).”
As for bringing it down to show their younger teammates, Harrison said that they can show them that aggressive playing style that’s required to play at the next level of High School Basketball and getting their younger teammates ready to go for when they jump into Scio High School over the next few years.
“We’re helping them be more aggressive and the things we learned from going there we can help them with it,” said Harrison.
During the scrimmaging portion of practice Monday evening, Harrison showed the aggressiveness to sixth-grader Adrien Stover, Dave Stover’s daughter by making Stover think on the run.
With the uniqueness of the sixth-graders playing with the eighth-graders Stover talked about how playing with the eighth graders and facing them will help her and the other sixth graders out this year and moving forward.
Stover herself was going after her eighth-grade counterparts as if she was a high school freshman or sophomore wrestling balls out of the hands of a junior or senior.
“It’s kind of hard because eighth-grade is a lot more competitive level than the sixth-graders would expect,” starts Stover.  “And I really like it because it could help me to where my sister got.”
Stover spoke to how her older sister serves as a inspiration for her to look up to with how she played.
“She taught me never to give up, don’t stress out that much no matter what’s going on in the game,” said Stover. “But it’s pretty awesome having my dad as a coach and my sister as an inspiration.”
Scio Middle working through some live-drills during practice (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)
As Stover and the rest of the team wrapped up practice, it’s unique to see such a balance on one middle school team of sixth, seventh and eighth graders; it’s almost like in High School having sophomores, juniors and seniors on your Varsity depth-chart.
For the older Stover, he spoke to especially with the sixth-graders are freshman in High School and the eighth-graders are juniors, the bond from this season will help them rekindle that teamwork as this group this year will have two years all together at the High School level even though they’ll be together in some form over the next several years.
“This is the group that’s going to be playing together for the next four-or-five years so I think it pays off huge benefits,” “If they can play together now and those younger kids are going to learn from the older kids and the older kids would also nurture those sixth-graders and bring them into fold.
“And so when those eighth-graders who will now be juniors, those sixth-graders will be  freshman, they’ll be more adept to bring them into the culture instead of, ‘oh it’s the icky freshman’, now it’s ‘hey that was my point guard as a sixth-grader’.  So I think it’ll be more adept to play to play together.  The eighth-graders don’t mind sharing the ball with the sixth-graders and the sixth-graders don’t mind sharing the ball with the eighth-graders, it’s all one group.  It’s all one family and I preach about that.”
It doesn’t matter who scores, it only matter who got the score adds Stover that the girls have bought into this season as they prepare for the home-stretch of the season with Blanchet coming to town Tuesday afternoon for the 4pm tip-off.
“The girl who gets the rebound is just as important as the girl who makes the assist that leads to the score,” said Stover.  “It’s all just as important in our books.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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