Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Girls basketball: Ottawa wraps up busy summer of activities

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While the season is five months in the future, the Ottawa girls basketball program was hard at work during the month of June to prepare for when that time comes.

Pirates coach Brent Moore, who will be walking the sidelines for a 10th season, said every summer brings with it a few things he wants to focus on, but in the end, there is always a couple constants he holds high for the contact days allowed.

“It changes in different ways from year to year, but the basis for every summer for our program, is No. 1, make sure we have accountability with numbers as best as we can,” Moore said. “When as much as possible we can have all of the girls together as a unit, more times than not the more productive we are going to be as a team come the winter. Like many schools, our girls are active in other sports and other activities in not only the summer but the school year.”

Moore said Ottawa hosted a league night, the Illinois Valley Girls Basketball League, every Monday and Wednesday in June with teams from La Salle-Peru, St. Bede, Streator, Hall, Seneca and Serena. His squad also went to a shootout at Illinois Wesleyan University, scrimmaged Geneseo at Wintrust Arena — home of the WNBA’’s Chicago Sky, attended shootouts at Lewis University and Morris and finally hosted and finished second at its own six-team Summer Jam on Friday at Kingman.

“I communicate with all of my players before I schedule the shootouts that we schedule in the summer,” Moore said. “This not only gives the girls a chance to be able to line up their schedules, but also makes sure we always have a solid core when we go to those events.

“I feel like we’ve created a foundation and maintained a solid structure in the program that leads to solid numbers, kids going out, staying out for the sport. There is a solid culture about the Ottawa girls basketball program and it’s something that girls want to be a part of. We’ve had a nice string of pretty good seasons, so each group sees what the previous one has done and wants to be the one that sets the bar higher.”

The Pirates, who finished last season at 17-13 overall, lost Kendall Lowery (7.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.5 spg), a Times All-Area second-team selection, to graduation. But will return a solid core, including Times first-team pick and Interstate 8 Conference first-team honoree in senior Skylar Dorsey (11.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg 39.9% 3FG).

Ottawa will also get back the services of senior guard Marlie Orlandi, who missed her entire junior season to a knee injury. As a sophomore Orlandi averaged 14.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2 assists and 2.6 steals per game and garnered a number of postseason accolades, including being an Associated Press Class 3A All-State honorable mention selection.

“After being cleared to return to action, Marlie played just a handful of minutes in the final game of the summer jam, which was great to see,” Moore said. “While not having Marlie all of last season or for pretty much all of the summer was tough, I also feel like the returning players have gained a ton of experience and improved.”

Moore said another focal point for the summer workouts is to see his team continue to improve offensively, be it on a personal or team basis.

“Another main focus for us in the summer is offensive skill work,” Moore said. “That is not only individual offensive skills, but also team chemistry inside the offense. Every year kids graduate and new kids come in, so how you want to attack opponents on the offensive end changes.”

“As far as the defense side of the game, it’s still an important aspect during the summer, but that is the part of the game that we really put as job No. 1 when the practices get underway in November.”

Moore feels his players have taken a solid step forward so far in the offseason.

“I can’t wait to see what this group can do when the games start to really count,” he said.

The Ottawa Pirates girls basketball team warms up before its summer scrimmage against Geneseo on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, home of the WNBA's Chicago Sky.

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