By Jason Wesseldyk
Some teams are young. Other teams are experienced.
Saugatuck is a combination of the two.
Because although the Indians only have one senior on the roster—point guard Will Ayers—they can five players returning from last year’s varsity squad.
“It’s a bit of a strange situation,” Saugatuck coach Brian Ward said. “We’re young, yet still experienced. Hopefully that means there will be less adjustments needed as we begin the season.”
The junior trio of shooting guard Russell VandePoel, forward Matt Hartgerink and center Landon Miller join Ayers as returning players, as does sophomore shooting guard Carter Miller.
That group helped Saugatuck bounce back from a 2-7 start last year to go 6-6 in the Trailblazers’ final 12 games for an overall record of 8-13.
“We really found our stride towards the end of the year as some of the sophomores—now juniors—got comfortable playing varsity basketball,” Ward said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what this group will be able to accomplish this year.”
Juniors Jack McCoy (small forward), Will Doucette (center), Eli Janowiak (forward) and Bradley Moorer (small forward) are part of the group of newcomers along with sophomore point guard Cass Stanberry.
“We have a lot of length this year,” Ward said. “We’ll look to use that with some zone pressure and really get in passing lanes and make it difficult for teams to run their offense.”
The addition of four new teams to the SAC caused a shuffling of the leagues divisions, with Saugatuck now in the SAC Central.
“Our goal and expectation is to win our division,” Ward said. “We feel like we can compete with all of the teams on our schedule and have a great chance at being on top at the end of the year.”
In order to give his team the best chance of attaining its overall goals for the season, Ward is focused on steady improvement.
“I want these guys to get a little better day by day, so that we become the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be,” he said. “The expectation is that we come to every game ready to play hard and compete.
“We feel that if we can battle and compete for 32 minutes, we have a pretty good chance of putting ourselves in a position to win a ball game.”
By Jason Wesseldyk