It’s a brand new season.
This week, high school teams all across the Blue Water Area will begin play with increased expectations.
At Port Huron High School the excitement surrounding the Big Reds comes on several fronts. The Big Reds have a new coach, 1989 alum Tony Giancarlo and Port Huron also has an athletic and talented roster that could surprise in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division.
“It has been a great time so far,” coach Giancarlo said. “I always said even when I was coaching football, I thought someday I would get back into basketball. Being back at Port Huron High is really exciting.”
The former coach of the Memphis High School football team has brought an up tempo style to the Big Reds that revolves around aggressive defensive play.
“We want to run and get in the open court but we want to predicate everything with defense,’ Giancarlo said. “We will trap at times and try to turn up the tempo to get us out in the open floor. We want to use our quickness and athleticism to the best of our ability. We aren’t big. We need to get in the open floor and create shots that way.”
Among the returners, Port Huron will expect guard Jermaine Drake to play an increased role.
“Our goals for the team is making everyone on the team a better person, winning games and going deeper in the playoffs than previous years,” Drake said. “Practice is a good learning process right now. We are getting our team chemistry together to get ready for the games.”
BWAC wide open
Port Huron isn’t the only team working hard for the upcoming season. The Blue Water Area Conference was stacked last season with depth and talented rosters. Ultimately, Yale, Richmond and Imlay City stood supreme. This year, the league is back to being wide open with no clear favorite.
“I see Imlay City and Richmond as the pre-season favorites,” Yale coach Garnett Kohler humbly said. “They both return very good players in key positions. Armada was a young team last season, so they have experience returning with a high ceiling. Almont and Croswell-Lexington are always athletic and physical teams that are tough to beat.
“As always, I see the BWAC as a league where anybody can beat anybody on any given night. I hope we can continue to improve our fundamentals on a daily basis and position ourselves to be competing for the league championship.”
Yale does have one thing in its favor:, the Bulldogs likely have the conference’s best player in guard Cody Kegley.
Mooney seeking Catholic League title
Meanwhile in the Catholic League, Marine City Cardinal Mooney also has one of the best players in the conference in Daniel Everhart. As a freshman, Everhart instantly became one of the top players in the conference and he will be a key for the Cardinals if they are to compete for a league title.
“I think Daniel is going to have a great sophomore season,” coach Mike McAndrews said. “He has put in a lot of time in the gym in the offseason working on his game. He also has gotten physically stronger and has the ability to finish with contact at the rim.”
In order to compete for the title, the Cardinals will have to go through Gabriel Richard, the defending champions.
“Gabriel Richard is the defending league champs and has a good core of returning players,” McAndrews said. “We split with them last year and we have goals to be in the mix to compete for a league title this year.
“The entire league will be very competitive this year and anyone will be able to win on any given night. We will have to be focused on one game at a time and not look past anyone.”
New look Saints
Back in the Macomb Area Conference, the St. Clair Saints will hope to surprise in the MAC Gold Division. But it won’t be easy with New Haven as the top dog in the conference.
“Our team will be different in some ways this year,” St. Clair coach Shawn Sharrow said. “Our offense will look more like it did in my early years at St. Clair without a real true post player. The last few years we were geared around pounding into the post with Clarke Lamb and Josh Barnes. We will look to play with movement and be difficult to guard. Our players know we must mature quickly in terms of executing “our stuff” offensively, limiting our turnovers and making shots.
“We have always hung our hat on playing tough defense, making hustle plays, and rebounding the basketball. I thought we took a step back last year in our defensive intensity so we are working hard to improve on that end of the floor. Games are won on the defensive end of the floor and we need to embrace shutting other team’s offenses down. This along with rebounding will ultimately define the type of success we have. We are challenging our kids to get tougher mentally and physically every day.”
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