After two years of changing venues, the Shreveport summer league is back at home.
While Huntington High School has remained the host team for the league the Raiders home gym has been unavailable the last two Junes. When the six-team girls league tips off today at 5 p.m., it will do so at Huntington.
"I like using other people's gyms," Huntington boys coach Mack Jones said. "We may look at it again in years to come, but it's nice to be in your own locker room and be at home." The venue is a familiar one but the 14 teams comprising the boys and girl leagues are filled with new faces, including plenty on the host side. The Raiders must replace Arkansas signee Michael Qualls and starting guard Timothy Johnson as well as several other faces from a deep lineup that produced a state quarterfinalist. "We'll have to lean on the big kid, Brandon Sheppard, and Kolton Brown with them being 6-7," Jones said. "They've got their chance to put their name out there. We're going to ride Chance (Chambers) a lot too this summer." Emerging players aren't the only new features in the 17th year of the summer league. The boys side includes a Homer team that will travel in from Claiborne Parish to compete on Tuesdays and Thursdays while Castor joins Woodlawn, Huntington, Fair Park, BTW, North Caddo and Benton on the girls side. Joining Homer on the boys side are Green Oaks, Woodlawn, BTW, Fair Park, Loyola and the host Huntington. Benton also is new to the girls league, playing in its first summer league in a "long, long time," according to coach Mary Ward. The Lady Tigers must find a way to replace scoring machine Lulu Perry, who will be at Louisiana Tech in the fall, among others. "My whole starting lineup is going to be new," Ward said. "Last year, I had a lot of girls playing summer ball so they were getting reps. A lot of these girls aren't playing summer ball. We'll see what kind of style we're going to play. I don't know if we're going to push the ball up the court or slow it down. It will be a learning experience for me, too." The same can be said for Fair Park boys coach Eddie Hamilton, who took over the Indians program just prior to the start of the 2011-12 school year. Hamilton intends to keep things simple this summer as the Indians again will feature a youthful roster, featuring only one senior. "We'll be depending, literally, on an eighth-grader," Hamilton said. "We have three guys who played varsity minutes last year. Everyone else will be fresh. I do believe we're talented. We're really young and we've got to get a lot of experience." Connect with Jason Pugh on Twitter at @JasonSPugh.