If local basketball players hope to one day compete at the high school, college or professional level, playing throughout the summer months is key.
With that in mind, two local coaches joined with local players in forming the Montezuma Storm, an AAU basketball team made up of seventh-and eighth-grade students.
In addition to practicing twice every week throughout April, May and June, the Storm participated in tournaments in Farmington, Window Rock, Rehoboth, Colorado Springs, Sandy, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
Playing against teams from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada, the Storm held their own, winning several games and a “sportsmanship award” in the Rehnoboth Tournament.
As important as the team’s results and awards however, was the fact that players improved, which, according to Storm head coach Jason Waymon, is what summer basketball is all about.
“Championship teams are built in the offseason,” explained Waymon, the current principal at Montezuma-Cortez High School and a former player for M-CHS. “We saw some of the best teams around and it made our kids play harder, faster and anticipate quicker.”
Players participating on this year’s storm team included Jackson Byerly, Matthew Decker, Gabe Garcia, Kade Glover, Kale Hall, Jens Jorgenson, Cael McHenry, Zeke Vargas, Rory Walker, Kolby Waltman and Caleb Yoder.
Tim Robinson assisted Waymon in coaching the team.
While the Storm’s season summer season is now complete, Waymon is hoping to form multiple summer teams next season, which would consist of players in sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grade.
By doing so, Waymon hopes to help in rebuilding the once-strong M-CHS basketball team, which enjoyed several successful seasons during the 1990s and won a state championship in 2002.
“We’re building for the high school,” said Waymon. “This summer helped us see a new caliber of ball.”
With any luck, such exposure will help lead players to future success on a local, state and maybe even national level.