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June 3-on-3 basketball season gives girls high school players a chance to get better

“I am thrilled with that turnout,” Bates said. “The high school coaches bring their kids and encouraging them to compete. I think everybody got some good games in.”
Olentangy girls basketball ryan isley

MASSILLON, Ohio – High school basketball season might still be months away, but you couldn’t tell that from the look of the three gyms inside Perry High School on Monday night as the three-week June 3-on-3 league regular season culminated in a double-elimination tournament.

The tournament and league, put together and run by Loudonville girls basketball coach Tyler Bates, drew more than 100 teams for the season and then 52 teams were at Perry on Monday to determine a tournament champion over the course of more than 120 games in a little over four hours.

“I am thrilled with that turnout,” Bates said. “The high school coaches bring their kids and encouraging them to compete. I think everybody got some good games in.”

Olentangy, who didn’t lose a single game in the three weeks of the season, took home the tournament title with a 21-16 win over Waynedale in the second of the two games between the teams after Waynedale won the first game in the finals.

There was also a college division, with eight college teams playing 16 total games and Mt. Vernon taking home the title with a win over Muskingum.

One of the better high school player matchups of the night came in an elimination game late in the tournament as Loudonville took on Akron Ellet. Loudonville was led by Corri Vermilya, while Ellet was led by Caitlyn Holmes.

Vermilya, the Mid-Buckeye Conference Player of the Year and All-Ohio first team selection as a sophomore this past season, and Holmes, who was named first-team All-City Series and All-District honorable mention as a freshman, traded baskets against each other throughout the 10 minutes until it was Loudonville who came out on top.

Playing against top individual competition like Holmes and against some of the other teams who were at the event, such as Stow, is something Vermilya welcomed because she thinks it will help her and her teammates get better for next season.

“We play some of these teams in the regular season, so I think it sets the tone for what its going to be like during the season,” Vermilya said. “It definitely helps a lot.”

Running the June 3-on-3 season and tournament is something Bates has been doing for a few years. What used to be just Northeast Ohio turned into adding Southwest Ohio and Central Ohio in recent years. But with it being difficult to field full teams at this time of the year, Bates decided to do something a little different.

“We started it about five years ago with 8 to 10 teams that just wanted to get together and play,” Bates said. “If we didn’t have a full roster of 15 to show up and play 5 on 5 we knew we had kids that would show up to play 3 on 3.”

While some might ask what teams or players get out of playing 3-on-3 instead of playing 5-on-5 like they would during the season, the coaches seem to think this format can be useful in many different ways.

“I think 3 on 3 in general is a great option,” Perry coach Beth Sternberg said. “You get your hands on the ball more and it gives you opportunities for different looks at the hoop that girls might not normally take in a 5 on 5 setting.”

Bates agrees with that assessment and adds that it helps players on the defensive side of the ball as well.

“It’s great because you have to guard and you can’t hide,” Bates said. “Offensively you can work on some things. I don’t know what else you could ask for.”

Putting together a tournament of this magnitude is no easy task, and Bates has been grateful to all who have helped host the regular season weeks and especially to Sternberg for allowing the tournament to be played at Perry.

“We couldn’t do it without coach Sternberg and Perry hosting and letting us use their facilities,” Bates said.

But Sternberg gives all the credit for the event coming together right back to Bates.

“We are just happy to host and that we have a facility that is able to accommodate all these schools,” Sternberg said. “Tyler does a great job. He does all work. We don’t do anything except open the doors."

And when those doors were opened on Monday night, more than 250 players from around the state came through and got some work in.

“I think everyone got better tonight,” Bates said.