EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The summer is an important time for high school basketball players to improve their games.

And for players to reintroduce themselves to their teammates.

The girls basketball season ends in February for most high school teams in Illinois. Many players quickly jump into a spring sport while others join an AAU team for April games.

So the Illinois Central College summer league gives many area players their first chance to reunite with their basketball teams since the end of the winter season.

“It’s actually really great to be back with the team,” Peoria High rising senior-to-be Denali Craig-Edwards said. “We haven’t seen each other for a very long time, it feels like. So to get back together again feels normal. And get back to our original game plan and it feels really good.”

The ninth ICC league started Wednesday. Teams will play twice every Wednesday night in the month of June at the East Peoria community college campus.

“Our team is like a family, so it’s like playing with your sisters. This is one of the most fun times of the year for me,” said Notre Dame rising junior Mia Wardle. “Honestly, sometimes it’s more fun than the season. Because you get to hoop, you get to play. And it’s OK to make mistakes and learn.”

The games are played in ICC’s CougarPlex and Ramsey gymnasium. Big schools like Washington, Morton and Metamora can be matched up with small schools like Illini Bluffs, Princeville and Tremont.

“It’s definitely refreshing and it’s really fun. Especially in these summer games because there’s not a lot of pressure,” said Eureka’s Ellie Cahill, who will be a senior this fall. “It’s time to go out and get better and do what we can.”