With drive to improve, Penn Hills dives into summer basketball competition

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Sunday, July 3, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Summer basketball isn’t just about improving skills. Penn Hills boys basketball coach Chris Giles enjoys watching his 3-year-old daughter, Jaxx, co-exist with the teams she’s around.

Jaxx has an opportunity to spend time with two teams — her dad’s Penn Hills squad as well as her mom Jordan’s Seton LaSalle team.

“My daughter is always around the game,” Giles said. “It’s good to be around the game and see things from a different light. She likes to dribble and she likes to run up and down and pretend she’s shooting. Both teams have taken her in.”

Everyone on the Penn Hills side was able to get some extra time in as they went out east to play in the Philly Live camp. Giles said about 10 Penn Hills players were able to make the trip and be around teams from several states.

It’s been a busy summer for the Indians, who were also playing in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club league. Penn Hills made the playoffs in that event.

“We’ve gotten a really good response,” Giles said. “We have a group of kids that want to work. It’s a grind. A lot of people think guys should just play football all summer, but we want to show you can play multiple sports in the summer.”

The Indians are eager to build following a season where Penn Hills made a run to the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals. Penn Hills won the Section 3-5A title with a 10-2 record and finished 20-6 overall.

Once the Indians made the state playoffs, they upset previously undefeated Lampeter-Strasburg, 62-39, in the first round. Penn Hills then knocked off East Stroudsburg South before bowing to New Castle.

Having a strong high school season definitely helped encourage participation in the summer.

“There’s no secret to success. All kids want to win,” Giles said. “When you want to win, you want to stay in the gym. Basketball is moving to an all-year-round type of deal. You don’t want to pick up the basketball at the beginning of the season and play. Developing a bonding experience comes with the grind, the trials and tribulations of working together.”

At the Philly Live event, Penn Hills was matched up with another team from Pennsylvania and one from the Washington, D.C., area. It was a chance for the Indians to see contrasting styles.

“It was a different style of play,” Giles said. “The kids are bigger, stronger and more physical. Sometimes kids want to be complacent in the summer because it’s the summer. But if you want to play teams on a national level, you have to be a competitor and want to win.”

Penn Hills will see a few small changes in its section next year. The Indians will be in Section 2-5A and will be paired up with Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Plum, Shaler and Woodland Hills.

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