Each summer The Cottage School Cougars venture off to Americus, GA on the beautiful campus of Georgia Southwestern University to take part in a team basketball camp (RBRU) hosted by various members of GISA. Due to Covid-19, we missed team camp in 2020 but thankfully we had it back in 2021. There were around 25 schools from all over the GISA realm.  The Cougars just came off their third back-to-back AAC championship in school history and the only school to have done this in the 32 years of AAC basketball competition. No school has ever won three in a row in the AAC and with the core senior class returning, this Cougar team could set yet another league record. That said, Coach Suroy and Richie challenged the boys by playing 9 of 11 GISA varsity teams at camp; the most ever! To summarize, TCS made a statement and other varsity coaches were impressed on their performance (5-6 record). Comments were made like…”Just love how your kids play so hard and with such great sportsmanship and attitude. Some other schools may match your intensity but can be jerks, you guys do it with class! This is the best team we have ever seen at camp. We are amazed on how you prepare your kids; none of us could do what you do!” For those reading our camp summary from your office or homes, Coach Briggs and Henderson thank you for your comments. From Coach Briggs, “You didn’t have to say these kind words but you did. Suroy and I could not be more appreciative and it shows great respect and moral aptitude.”

As stated above, TCS finished 5-6 overall and are more ready for the season in October. Here is a brief summary of the Cougars experience. On Thursday, June 17th TCS could not have begun in more electrifying fashion. They squared off versus Fullington Academy and won 37-36 in double-overtime; sudden death. At camp overtime is two minutes and if still tied, double-overtime is whoever scores first (sudden death). Both teams fouled on each end in sudden death and TCS did it first. Fullington missed their free throw which gave TCS the ball on the rebound. Cottage made theirs and game over!

The Cougar defense was the key to this game and the majority of all games throughout camp. Cottage defeated Southwest Georgia Academy 36-20 in the second contest. TCS dropped the next two games but a 2-2 start on day one built confidence for day two.

The Cougars had five games on Friday and as the day went along, you can see it took a toll physically with just eight players versus teams with over twelve. Despite the lack of substitutions, TCS still managed to defeat Pinewood’s JV team, John Hancock’s varsity, and a rematch with Fullington’s varsity for a 3-2 record. All three wins provided much growth for the team as scoring points has been their Achilles heal last season. In all three, the Cougars connected on 10 or more 3-pointers showing this improvement (ironically, no TCS team has ever made more threes in summer camp then this crew). The only underclassman, sophomore guard Braden Kramer, connected on five threes once and senior guard Aidan Briggs hit five threes twice and another with four from downtown. The TCS camp record is now tied again with five threes (Omari Anderson and Jordan Webb in summer of 2009 and Harris Menetre in 2017).

On the final morning, Saturday June 19th, the Cougars were spent physically and mentally. Their effort was there but just no legs. An 8:00 AM contest with Westfield’s varsity was too much and that followed with a very young but quick Windsor JV team. Hoping to finish above .500 would have been nice but more importantly, the Cougars came home healthy and had a chance in all eleven games. TCS finished 5-6 and are a step closer for next October, so cannot be more thankful and proud.

Camp individual highlights:

Aidan Briggs led the team in points and rebounds. His shooting touch made much improvement hoping to give him confidence next season in games. He connected on 24 three pointers in just eleven games (which is the most in school history at summer camp). Not only did he smash the charges taken record last season, he did it again at camp. Who takes charges in pickup games…Aidan does! He took over 20 charges.

Alex Hogg backed Briggs with his offense and on the glass (just barely behind in both categories). He also continued his school record of blocked shots, averaging over 3 blocks per game at camp; with over 5 in multiple games.

Daniel Byman was a menace to everyone that stepped onto the court. His relentless pressure forced a plethora of turnovers. As he did last season, he led the team in steals. What Daniel needed to improve on was scoring and decision making and he did just that. His point guard penetration and ability to distribute the ball was much better. He also worked on his shot and connected on several pull-up jump shots and three pointers throughout the games.

Braden Kramer stepped up his level of intensity on defense. His hustle and focus on decision making also need much improvement and he showed he can do it. He benefited from several steals, weak side rebounds, and made some great feeds to aid his three leaders above to score. Braden also made 17 three pointers over the eleven games.

Ben Johnson did not play with the Cougars last season but plans to in 2021-2022. This senior does not have a lot of basketball experience but his effort and court moxie provides so much opportunity. Learning the offense and rotation on defense was the first line of work at camp. Once this came through, Ben slowly added quality possessions. Johnson finished with several steals and key rebounds. He also made some slashing layups and knocked down a handful of three pointers. Coach Suroy and Richie are thrilled to have Ben come out for basketball and cannot wait to coach him next season; “He will be a huge asset for us next season,” says Coach Briggs.

Anthony Kovach was forced to play a ton of minutes each game which is critical for his overall improvement. Anthony will play a key role for the Cougars next season so his decision making, defense, and shooting must improve for his team to reach their full potential. He too improved in these areas and his coaches are encouraged on his progress.

Alex Yager is another of several rising seniors on the team. Adjusting to the speed and physicality was the first major hurdle for Alex. He gave much needed help off the bench with his hustle and energy on defense. The more comfortable he got on offense the more he aided his teammates with screens and ball movement.

Bryce Dickerson is the seventh rising senior who came to camp this summer. Just like Yager, Dickerson is a three-year JV player working to find his way on the varsity level. The one thing you can always count on for Bryce is his hustle. He loves the defensive side of the ball and will be the first on the floor for a loose ball. Bryce came away with a handful of steals and even surprised his own teammates with a few three pointers to boot!

Here are few camp photos, including the infamous Delephano! Summer camp of 2013, Cougar Alum Asa Branch named this GSW art piece for what appears to be part Donkey, Elephant, and Ostrich! LOL…the kid’s love the Delephano and camp tradition is to drive to the back of their campus to take this picture for the newbies each summer.