This past winter the Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team put together its deepest postseason run since making it to the Division 3 North finals in 2010.
The difference over the past few seasons has been preparation during the off season, something the Crusaders and with 11 other teams in the area, take very seriously.
For the past six years, Danvers girls basketball coach Pat Veilleux and co-director John Keenan have been heading up the North Shore Girls Basketball Summer League for local clubs — and it’s paid off.
Teams like Fenwick, Ipswich, Hamilton-Wenham, Masconomet, Beverly and most recently Peabody have benefited from the extra time playing together as a unit.
“Honestly, it gets me ready and in shape for the regular season,” said Fenwick guard Lexie Rose. “It helps us get ready for the regular season and gives some of the freshmen a chance to see what it’s like to be a player on a varsity team.”
Somewhat of novelty nowadays, the games are played outside under the lights at Plains Park in Danvers. It gives the girls a chance to play in a different atmosphere and deal with the different elements of not playing in a gym.
This summer, the league increased to a dozen teams after Peabody and North Reading joined in June. There’s usually three nights a week of games, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday — with four games each night. They don’t have games on Wednesday’s because another summer league in the area usually plays that day and the majority of the teams are in multiple summer leagues.
Keenan originally started a boys summer league in Danvers. When Veilleux came on board as head coach of the girls, he approached Keenan about possibly putting together something for the girls as well.
“Our girls found it difficult to travel to Lynn to play in their league most of the time, so we started our own with eight teams,” explained Veilleux, who will enter his 10th season as head coach this winter. “We now have 12 (teams) and it’s been very good competition each night. We have teams from four different leagues.”