In years past the Montgomery County varsity girls basketball program organized and hosted a summer shootout that eventually got pushed to the side because of coaching changes.
That was before the arrival of Joe Basinger, who resurrected this event for the Lady Wildcats last year and now hopes to make this an annual occurrence.
"I think things have gone really well. We've had some pretty good basketball," said Basinger. "We have a couple of Eastern Missouri Conference here, and when you sprinkle in teams like Mexico, Warrenton and Clark County, it really provides a variety of good teams. We created a format where teams weren't playing the same schools over and over like you get used to playing during the season."
One thing that made this event different for Basinger is that he had to play multiple roles all day long. This included helping officiate games, collecting and processing payments and just about everything else that came up.
"My kids are fairly self sufficient on these days. I've got a great bunch of kids," Basinger said. "When they tell me they're going to be here, they're here. They all do a great job pitching in and helping out. We don't do a fundraiser and I don't want them to go have to sell things door-to-door, so we expect them to help out with events like this."
The template each of the scrimmages followed on Monday at the MOCO Shootout consisted of two 16-minute halves and a running clock. The exception to those guiding principles is that in the final two minutes the running clock is set aside in favor of simulating real end-of-game scenarios like the ones these athletes will eventually incur during varsity competition.
"In the last two minutes of the game if the point differential is 15 points or less we don't use the running clock. We play it like a regular game so the players get some experience out of it. If you're in a close game and you want to foul or things like that, I feel like that option needs to be there. That's why we do the final two minutes in a standard format so the kids become used to doing it that way.
"For people who love basketball this is a great day to just come out and watch. We don't charge admission," said Basinger. "People can just come out and enjoy the games and see some good basketball. The games go pretty quick and we've got some good teams here."
The host Lady Wildcats actually took the floor first in the high school gym for this event at 9:00 a.m. against Van-Far and then again at 9:45 a.m. against Clark County. In the middle school gym the Lady Wildcats also played freshman and JV games against Clark County at 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Father Tolton and New Haven were on hand for those sub-varsity contests, as well.
For Mexico, it's day began with a win over the Lady Indians prior to defeating North Callaway 38-29 in its second game after leading 19-9 at halftime. The Lady Bulldogs then concluded this event against Bowling Green at 3:00 p.m.
"The big thing against North Callaway is that I liked our transition offense. I thought we did a better job with that," said Mexico coach Ed Costley. "We got rattled a little depending on who we had in there because we were running a small lineup. I thought we also did a good job playing full court defense. I was pleased with what we were able to do defensively. We put pressure up front with a smaller lineup."
One part of the game Costley has been working on with his team at the camps and training sessions they've held so far this summer is passing. While North Callaway's wide-open style did create some problems in that area, the skill sets the Lady Bulldogs have created for themselves looked like much more of a finished product than some of the other programs in attendance.
"So far this summer I've been really pleased with our passing. We're making that next pass on time and, more than anything else, we're not just making a pass. We've got a purpose with our passes," Costley said. "I feel like we're doing a better job of that and putting people in a position to score. We just have to do a better job with our interior looks. We're not really going to our post players at the right time. Our post players also have to do a better job finding the gap."
North Callaway, on the other hand, didn't begin this event until 12:45 p.m. against Warrenton. That casual arrival time came with a cost, though, which meant immediately after defeating Warrenton 29-23 the Ladybirds had to face Mexico and fell 38-29.
"We're woking really, really hard. For some of these girls this is their first time playing with and against the varsity," said North Callaway coach Morgan Beamer. "That initial shock was a little bit much for them, but then they settled down, adjusted and started running our stuff. We run a lot in practice. We go up and down the court and really get after it, so even though we played back-to-back games, the team knew that was going to be the expectation. It's rough, but it's good conditioning."
The final matchup of the MOCO Shootout launched at 3:45 p.m. and featured the host Lady Wildcats taking on the Ladybirds. Prior to that Bowling Green played Van-Far at noon and Clark County at 2:15 p.m. and Warrenton faced Clark County at 1:15 p.m.
"I absolutely like what I've seen from the girls so far this summer. They play well together and that's what we saw on the court today," Beamer said. "We were setting screens and talking to one another the entire time. These girls get along and that really helps in regards to our team culture. Once the girls got a breather, they went right back in and gave 100 percent and my girls do that every time."
Next up for the Lady Wildcats is another shootout on Monday that starts at 9:00 a.m. against Warrenton. Bowling Green then faces Warrenton at 9:45 a.m. and Montgomery County at 10:30 a.m.