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Young Norse building toward the future

TEAM: Northfield’s Rick Brewer (left) instructs his team in a huddle prior to a game last season against Southwood for the Norse.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

Last summer, the Northfield boys’ basketball team hardly had a summer of work. A coaching change that stretched through the month of June into July left Rick Brewer without much time to work with his new time after taking over in mid-July.

This summer, though, has been drastically different for Brewer and the Norse. A full summer of work on the court has led to a productive off-season as Brewer begins his second year at the helm.

Northfield took part in a series of scrimmages at Peru while traveling to Indiana State, Eastbrook and Centerville for shootouts and games. Over the course of June, the Norse battled the likes of Tindley Prep, Covenant Christian, Southern Wells, Seton Catholic and Eastbrook, amongst others.

For Brewer, the biggest focus was on getting as much game time as possible for as many athletes as possible.

“One of the things we did this summer is if we had 12 guys there, 12 guys played,” Brewer said. “If we had eight guys there, eight guys played. That’s just the way we played it.

“My whole goal going into the summer is we’re going to play a lot of games and we’re going to play a lot of kids. In fact, when we went down to Centerville, I think we went with four varsity players, a JV player and two freshmen players where it was just kind of like ‘This is going to do. These are the seven who are going to be able to commit on this particular day and they’re all going to play.’ That was my thing.”

In total, the Norse played about 18 games this summer on top of workouts, both individual and team. For Brewer, all of it was part of a process as he helps rebuild the Norse back to its title-contending days of previous years.

“I kind of have a process I go through when I feel I have to rebuild a program and one of the first parts is you play a lot of games so kids get a lot of playing time,” he said. “And then next year in the summertime, it’ll be a little more instructional. We’ll still play a lot of games but it’ll be far more instructional.”

“This summer was totally different (than last). I already knew the kids and we did a lot of workouts. We did jump training. That’s one of my areas of expertise is developing some verticality and side-to-side quickness. And then after that we would usually do an hour of really solid basketball skill work.”

Individually, Brewer noted a handful of players that had stepped up during the summer. Guard Clayton Tomlinson, the team’s leading returning scorer, was the first one Brewer pointed out for taking a larger leadership role. Brother Dillon Tomlinson along with Ross Watson, Caleb Krum, Jake Halderman all were players noted by Brewer.

But the man Brewer raved about most, though, was big man Graydon Holmes. Holmes’ improvement from last summer to this came largely as a result of being in attendance, something he didn’t do often last year according to Brewer, and putting in the time when he did. The payoff for the Norse could be a big one.

“I think we’re going to see some good things out of Graydon this year,” Brewer said. “He’s been a dedicated guy. It’s been great.”

Overall, Brewer saw the Norse come out in bunches for those workouts, another drastic improvement over last summer. On top of showing up, Brewer also was impressed with how dedicated the team was this off-season.

“The kids really put in a lot of time,” he said. “I’ve been really excited about the dedication from the kids. There have probably been no less than 20 guys that have really come in...and really got after it. I’m really excited about the dedication the kids have had. I think that things are going to continue to rise at Northfield.”