Kewanee didn’t win every game over the course of high school summer league play in June. And Kewanee coach Shaune Lewis was perfectly OK with that.

It was a month that featured a lot of games against stiff competition, plenty of hot gyms and some up and down play for the Boilers, leaving Lewis and his staff excited for November to roll around and for the real high school season to get underway.

“It was good sometimes and not so good other times,” Lewis said. “We played a lot of games and played a lot of guys in those games. We don’t work on trying to be undefeated during summer. We want to see who we are, what we can be and where we’re at.”

The biggest thing Lewis and company look for during summer action is competitiveness, an area which he saw improvement in.

The Boilers played a number of bigger schools and high quality teams over the month of June. Kewanee grabbed notable wins over Dunlap, Knoxville, Macomb, IVC and Galesburg, which beat Peoria Manuel the same day.

“We played really well the first part of June, then we had a little lull in the middle of June,” said the KHS coach, who’s team will be playing in the 3A postseason next winter for the first time. “We competed with 3A teams all summer and we saw a lot of them. We learned a lot from the competition we played this summer.”

Kewanee competed in the Justin Sharp Memorial Shootout at Rock Island last Friday with the likes of Rock Island, Moline, Bettendorf, United Township and a number of bigger schools from Illinois and Iowa. 

Among the teams the Boilers faced was Iowa City West. They were led by a pair of top-five recruits in the state, including Iowa signee Patrick McCaffery, son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.

A big difference in playing 2A teams compared to 3A teams is the defensive pressure the better teams apply. It took some getting used to at first for Kewanee, but Lewis was encouraged by the way his team adjusted to it.

“We needed to see what was out there and see how we need to play. A lot of it was just how teams guarded us. They picked us up at half court, full of ball pressure and just up in you all the time,” he said. “I thought we adjusted and started playing that way as the summer went on. We didn’t like being guarded that way so we wanted to guard other teams like that. I really liked that about our attitude and maturity over the summer.”

It was a month of learning for not only the players, but also for Lewis as he tried to figure out the best type of style to fit his personnel. A big focus for the Boilers was trying to play faster and get shots up quicker, partially in preparation for the expected shot clock to come into play for the 2019-2020 season.

“We threw some stuff out, we know what we’re good at and we know stuff we’re going to keep getting better at,” he said. “We got some good early offense. Playing 16 to 18 minute halves with running clock and scoring 50 to 60 points, I was pretty impressed with. I think we’re gonna be able to score over 70 a game next year. Overall the pace was good when we played well.”

Lewis said Kewanee is farther along at this point in the year than where they were a year ago. The Boilers, who will still be a young team featuring mostly juniors and a couple seniors, have a lot more depth now thanks to a junior class that goes around 14 deep.

“It’s a big, athletic class. A lot of good kids to coach, too,” Lewis said. “We got a lot better idea of who we are and who we can be. We’re still young, but I think we’re gonna grow really quickly in early November and have a chance to have a pretty good season.”