By Ken DeLaat N3 Sports
Will CM bring their football magic to the hardcourt? Is Reed City back? Does Big Rapids have the horses for a title run? Will the Pack be raining triples with their big men having departed? Will the Tigers do the same? Can the Lions bounce back from some serious graduation losses? Will Morley’s returnees be enough to defend their title? Is White Cloud ready to move forward? Can Holton feed off last season’s success?
Well, let’s see.
Newaygo Lions: Coach Joe Barrett
The Lions hope to blend some new faces in with some experienced players from last year’s team.
“We don’t have a lot of varsity experience, but I am excited to see where we end up in March”
The varsity welcomes back five players from last year’s team: Seniors Francisco Rios, Carlos Magana, and Noah Painter are joined by Juniors Wyatt Mortensen and Jarrod Wismar.
Newcomers include: Senior David Gonzalez; Juniors Ashton Stephens, Brandon Badgero, and Hayden Mackenna; Sophomore Gabriel Schillman and German foreign exchange student Pascal Hermann.
Coach Barrette knows that while every season is different, the expectations for
Newaygo basketball remain the same:
“We will play with energy and enthusiasm. Our goal is to represent our school with class and dignity every time we take the floor,” The Lions will open up on December 10th at Orchard View with a total of 4 gamesbefore a break over the holiday season.
Fremont Packers: Coach Pete Zerfas
Graduation cost the Packers some height to be sure but Coach Pete Zerfas returns three starters from last season's 19-2 squad including Braiden McDonald whose breakout season put him in the ‘best area player’ conversation. Joshua Zerfas dishes out dimes and for their third Varsity season Carter Moon and Jaxx Miller will be working it on both ends of the court.
Chris Kennedy, Tristan Campbell, Jacob Visser and Cody Moon are key returnees from last year's success and the team adds juniors Lane Converse, Adam Ward, Parker Vandenberg, Martin Curiel, and Johnny Rodriguez.
Coach Zerfas: "We return 6 players who all got significant playing time but we struggled this summer with depth. We also lost most of our size.
"The key to our season will be developing more depth so we can go 8 or 9 deep. Rebounding was also a concern this summer as we will need to rebound as a group much better because of our lack of size. We are in the mix. Our top 6 is as good as anybody but we need to develop more depth to combat any injuries or foul trouble that occurs."
The Packers open the season Dec 10 at Shelby and play their first home game six days later when the Ludington Orioles come to town
Grant Tigers: Coach Joe Schuitema
No team improved over the year like the Tigers. They showed their youth at times with some inconsistent play but they could also catch fire and pour in the triples from a number of angles. Senior Carter Chase is a ballplayer. He can score ...a lot... but it’s what he does away from the ball that is the most impressive. Chase is always anticipating and he seldom guesses wrong. Diesel Rose, the only other senior on the team, provides some presence in the paint and can also score when needed. Brent Long provides some offensive firepower and Elliott Butchart posted some important minutes all season.
Then there is Seth Schuitema who hit the floor last season as a freshman and can stick it from anywhere while displaying a quick and deceptive defensive skill set. If he improves like last season he will see the best defenders in the conference every night once they tire of chasing down Chase.
Newcomers include a septet of juniors as Eli Bradley, Gage Burrows, Orion Evans, Diego Krepps, Cole Lesley, Braden Swanson and Jed VanderWeide make their varsity debuts.
Coach Schuitema: “We have a solid group of players from last year's team with lots of game experience. We have guard skills, athleticism, size and depth. I believe we should be competitive in the league.”
The Tigers will begin their season at Whitehall on Dec. 10 and the first appearance at home will be a week later when they face Sparta the team that knocked them out of district play last spring.
Coaches Conference Comments
“The outlook for the the league should be pretty balanced with no clear front runner.”
“ Fremont and Big Rapids consistently challenge the top making it tough for the rest of the teams.”
*I think our league is wide open, maybe as wide open as I remember in the CSAA. Grant returns the league's leading scorer Carter Chase, already over 1000 points to go with Seth Scuitema. Big Rapids might have the most athletic talent in the league and most since they went to the final 4 3 years ago. Reed City is very strong, especially their junior class and with the return of Coach Jesse Kailing they should be very good. Central Montcalm returns a bunch of 3 year varsity players and was very very good at CMU summer camp this year. They will be tough to beat. "
White Cloud: Coach Bob Jones
The team struggled last season picking off a win here and there but being handled by some of the better teams.
The Cloud returns four starters as Steven Holt and Jake Foster bring 2 years of Varsity experience into their senior year while Dexter Cox and Sam Venema come back to their starting roles as juniors.
Tom Feldpausch who provided help off the bench last season is the only other returnee as seniors Caleb Cale, Alex Helder, Alex Clark and Nick McLain join the team along with juniors Cameron Wolters and Adam Bulk and sophomore Taylor Bode.
Coach Jones: “We’re looking for double digits in wins and to bring respect back to our program.”
WC opens with a game at Mason County Eastern Dec. 10 then 3 days later they will host the Eagles of Kent City to begin conference play.
Holton Red Devils: Coach Luke Houseman
The Devs grabbed second place in the Silver with some inspired play and a group of scrappers who battled from tipoff to games end.
Seniors Nathan Slowik, Drew Trygstad, Kaleb Kitchka, Chip Wright and Cody Wright and junior Aidan Poling are back and will be joined by senior Lukas Ramaekers, juniors Cameron Wackernagle, and Joseph McLean and sophomore Wyatt Monette.
Slowik is a force on the court and knows how to win.
Coach Houseman: “Our kids worked hard in the off season and we are looking to take another step forward. Our goal is to compete for a league and district championship.”
The Red Devils will open the season with a home game against Sparta.