IN THE PAINT — Junior center Josh Lemley, pictured here in the Windsor Shootout Tournament on July 14, has been a go-to player during a rigorous off-season basketball program for the Eagles this summer.

High school basketball coaches have been preaching the virtues of a dedicated off-season program since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and little has changed over the years.

The Cloverdale Eagles are no exception to the rule, nearing the end of a busy summer program that has featured two dozen games in addition to participation in a few competitive tournaments.

Veteran head coach Pat Fitzgerald has overseen a schedule that has included two games per week in the Santa Rosa Junior College Summer League, while competing in Shootout tournaments at both Mendocino College and Windsor High School.   

“We get around 23 games for the off-season mainly against larger schools, and we’re beating many of them,” Fitzgerald reported. “It's good to challenge our players to play at a higher level and as the summer has progressed we’ve shown great improvement.”    

Cloverdale is coming off a solid 15-11 campaign last winter, including a third place league mark of 9-5 and a trip to the North Coast Section Division 5 playoffs. The Eagles graduated just three players from that squad, and expect to return a strong nucleus of veteran talent next season.

The summer varsity roster features seniors Shayne Turner, Chuche Maciel, Spencer Hoover and Tyler Ruys, juniors Josh Lemley, Logan Axell and Adrian Gutierrez, and sophomores Dylan Moeller, Gabe Wlodarczk and Joe Faso.

Although summer wins and losses take a backseat to hard work, team improvement and repetition, some aspects of the game remain the same. 

“I'm asking the boys to play hard, don't be out hustled by your opponent, push the ball in the open court and play together,” Fitzgerald noted. “We have also put an emphasis on defense, which will be the key to our ultimate success.”

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