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More practice time, or is the status quo just right?

High school sports is busy during this open practice period in West Virginia, the "three-week practice period," and coaches agree to disagree whether the window is open high enough.

Get a room full of coaches together and you aren't likely to get a majority opinion. That's specifically true with regards to basketball.

The one prevailing opinion is that any practice time is good practice time, even if coaches differ in how to use it.

Take Westside coach Shawn Jenkins, who spends the time on the road at team events. Recently the Renegades spent a few days at Coastal Carolina (right outside Myrtle Beach) and finished with a 3-3 record against mostly out-of-state competition. Prior to that the Renegades hosted a shootout with all the Class AA Region 3, Section 1 teams as well as Shady Spring, Greater Beckley, Mingo Central, Hurricane and Liberty, Virginia.

The Renegades won two games by two or fewer points and lost two games the same way.

Westside beat Greenbrier East 60-42 in a game it led by as many as 30 points.

Wyoming East plays a lot of summer ball in the Beckley Summer League and the Graham, Virginia, Summer League and recently went to the George Washington Shootout in Charleston, going 2-1, with wins over Parkersburg (63-61) and Spring Valley (68-44 in double overtime) and a 63-48 loss to home standing G.W.

It should be a big season for Wyoming East, with three starters back, including second-team all-state guard McQuade Canada.

Not everyone is in favor of expanding the three-week period, which is really still in the toddler stage, now in its fourth year.

"I don't think they should extend the period," Chad Perkins, the dean of Region 3 coaches, said. "Kids and coaches need time off to go on vacation and just be kids. It's especially hard on multi-sport athletes. I've seen a lot of young coaches burn out after about four or five years."

Oak Hill coach Benitez Jackson agreed.

"I think three weeks is fine," Jackson said. "It gives kids a chance to play other sports without having to specialize."

That is certainly true with regards to AAU basketball or travel or all-star baseball.

Often times, though, the three week window has the opposite effect.

Wyoming East coach Derek Brooks is feeling the effects of that.

One major drawback to the three-week period that occurs here is with multi-sport athletes like Canada, who is playing football in high school for the first time.

"We haven't had as much upperclassmen involvement as I would want, but that has given these young guys a chance to step up and get some experience," Brooks said. "It's an advantage to get the young guys accustomed to what we do and what we expect and the chance for them to get in live competition with other programs."

Jenkins would like to see the practice session open all summer so coaches can work with players at any time.

"I understand that they want their time, but I have kids who want me to work them out and I can't," Jenkins said. "I think they should let us coach any time we want to. Me personally, I would not interfere with other players that play other sports. But you have some players who don't play basketball and baseball or other sports and we can't work with them. To me that's crazy.

"Kids show interest and they say no, you can't do that. I don't understand that kind of thinking. This is what we do and these rules hurt some kids. We are behind some states that allow this to happen."

He cited Kentucky as an example.

"I've been told that their state tournaments are unbelievable," Jenkins said. "It's a different world we live in now and these rules are not up to date."

Greater Beckley coach Brian Helton cited Ohio as an example.

Ohio's governing body for sports, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, recently passed legislation to block off two weeks, but open practice for the rest of the summer.

"It should definitely be expanded so that kids have more access to positive activities," Helton said. "I think it should be volunteer but should be allowed year-round if the kids want to participate. Limiting access only hurts the kids' ability to to be better players and greatly limits the coaches' impact on their life outside of basketball. It doesn't make sense that we would intentionally remove positive activities that kids want to participate in. Our state is way behind other states in this area and it hurts our kids in our state for opportunities they may have beyond high school."

The three week period expires at the end of this week.

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