The “offseason” won’t stop seven Cattaraugus County boys basketball teams from playing the next two months.
The Cattaraugus County Boys Basketball Summer League returns for a fourth consecutive summer on Wednesday with four games: a pair of doubleheaders featuring Portville, Allegany-Limestone, Cattaraugus-Little Valley and Salamanca. The league’s other three teams — Olean, Ellicottville and Randolph — take the week off in a new weekly format intended to give teams more of a break after previously playing twice a week.
“We wanted to make it easier on the athletes and the coaches and we felt like if we could get it down to one night a week and still finish in the same general time period, that would be advantageous to every team,” said Salamanca coach Adam Bennett. “We’ve never really had a problem with numbers but sometimes when you go two nights per week and obviously other sports are doing things in the summer too, it can get tough for coaches to try to make sure that you’ve got enough guys there.
“This way, it’s a set schedule, each team has a bye week during the season portion of it and now students are able to kind of plan out when they’re needed for basketball and we can reduce it down to a week to make it easier for them with other sports.”
Each team has one bye week in the “regular season,” which runs each Wednesday from July 3 through July 31. Portville hosts the first and third weeks, and Randolph hosts the second. Then Salamanca plays host the rest of the season.
“Portville has two gyms and it makes it easier for us and we’re able to play four games in two hours,” Bennett said, “which again from a time standpoint, that just reduces the amount of time coaches and kids have to be there. So we were really thankful that Bill (Torrey) and Portville stepped up and they were willing to host. The only other part of it would be that most schools in the summer are re-doing their gym floors. They’re resealing, they’re redesigning the floors. That’s really all that went into it.
“That’s why we’re backloaded (at Salamanca), because the floor is being re-done and it’s the beginning of the summer and having Portville able to host those allowed us to get multiple games in less time.”
Wednesday’s schedule features two concurrent doubleheaders at Portville’s North and South gyms between Salamanca, Portville, Allegany-Limestone and Cattaraugus-Little Valley. Ellicottville, Olean and Randolph have the first week off on a bye.
The playoffs begin Aug. 1 with the quarterfinal round for seeds No. 2-7 and the No. 1 seed receiving a bye. The semifinals are Aug. 7, with the championship the following night.
The Cardinals rejoined the league after playing in 2017, while Pioneer and Franklinville didn’t return this summer, dropping the number of teams from eight to seven.
“The fact that we have seven and not eight allows every team to have that one week during the season where they have a bye,” Bennett said of Randolph’s return, “so we were all OK with that from the standpoint that there’s a little time off for each team.”
As for the Warriors, Bennett relishes a chance to work with his team (12-9 last winter) throughout the summer.
“We have almost all of our scoring back,” Bennett said. “This is just a part of our process. We were at team camp two weeks ago in Erie. The summer league is a big part of our program because we’re able to determine what lineups that we like but really at different levels. We invite certain JV players to play and get more time but for us it’s all about developing our players at this time of year. We want to win every game that we play, but the emphasis is on development first and making sure that come November, our guys are ready for the season, they know and understand how we expect them to play and the fact that we’re able to play good competition in the summer certainly helps with that.”