Like most of her Lake High School basketball teammates, Kaysie Brittenham had
never set foot on an airplane before the Flyers made their trip to Chandler, Ariz., on June 22.
"That was my first time on a plane," said Brittenham, a Lake junior. "It was fun. I enjoyed it."
There were a lot of things for the 11 Lake players, coaches and parents to enjoy on their seven-day trip to Arizona. Head coach Denny Meyer, who used to coach in Chandler, took the team out West to play in a tournament and participate in other team functions.
The team returned to Ohio on June 29.
"It was a great trip," Meyer said. "We played in a 16-team tournament Thursday, Friday and Saturday and came in second place. We lost in the championship game by 11 points to a team (Mesa Mountain View) that many think will win the state championship for big schools in Arizona.
"We played very well, probably the best we've played all summer. Some other coaches from Arizona said every year they get away, they seem to play better. They're just relaxing and having fun. One thing that really helped us was we (had already) played against Division I schools around here in tournaments. With this being against bigger schools, the players were bigger and faster and we were used to that from what we've been playing against around here."
Brittenham, a first-team All-Suburban Lakes League and honorable mention All-Ohio selection last year, said the trip was a "great experience" for everyone.
"It was a lot of fun playing together," she said. "The team bonding was great. The tournament was fun. To play teams from different areas was fun. The water park was a lot of fun. We did a lot of team bonding there. The pool at the hotel was fun and we got to swim and play tennis a little bit."
Lake's basketball team held several fundraisers to pay for the trip to Arizona. The team plans to visit San Diego next year.
This summer's excursion included a day at a water park, a scrimmage, lots of shopping and a trip to Arizona State University. Some of the players hiked up a mountain near the ASU football stadium, but Meyer said he didn't accompany them.
"They got pictures of the sunset," the coach said. "I don't go up that high, so I didn't go up there."
Meyer's daughter, second-team All-SLL point guard Kimberly Meyer, moved with her family from Chandler to Northwest Ohio when she was in the sixth grade. Several members of the team Lake lost to in the tournament title game last month played with Kimberly's AAU team when she lived in Arizona.
"One of the girls I played with, Kaitlin Meister, will be a senior and I've seen her on vacations and I've stayed close to her," said Kimberly, who had knee surgery in March. "It was a lot of fun. She's a shooting guard so we had Kaysie on her to block shots and stuff. I did pretty good. I just started playing at the beginning of June, so it's getting better."
Kimberly said the team used the week in Arizona to get to know each other better. Advancing to the tournament championship game against Mesa Mountain View, she said, was a big bonus.
"It was a very good bonding trip for the team," Kimberly said. "We went to a water park, which was a lot of fun, and the weather was really nice. They had a nice mall we went to a couple times. It was very big. It helped that we played so good in the tournament. Everyone was in a good mood because of the way we were playing.
"We knew a lot of the teams would be good, but I don't think a lot of the teams at the tournament expected us to be in the championship game."