By Jason Wesseldyk
It’s been said that it’s not how you start that’s important, but how well you finish.
Saugatuck was a perfect example of that last season.
After posting a 7-9 record through their first 16 games, the Trailblazers won eight of their last nine contests to finish at 15-10, winning a district title in the process.
And with several key contributors from that team back this season—not to mention some talented additions—Saugatuck coach Kevin Tringali hopes to carry that momentum into the new season.
Seniors Jenn Schock and Elsa Nor are back after playing big roles last season, as is junior Kennedy Gustafson along with sophomores Ada Roth and Penny Grob.
Senior guard Brook Simpson, meanwhile, transferred into the district from Belding, where she earned Division 2 All-State honors and received multiple NCAA Division 1 offers.
Simpson’s younger sister Mylah, a freshman, also joins the team. She’ll play point guard and wing.
“Our strength as a team is definitely our experience,” Tringali said. “Jenn, Elsa, Kennedy, Ada and Penny all played key roles in our district championship season. Then you add a high-level player with plenty of big-game experience in Brook to the mix and you will always have a shot.
“Younger sister Mylah Simpson, although just a freshman, plays wise beyond her years and will not be afraid of big moments.”
Sophomore guard Avery Smith also joins the team and should see plenty of playing time.
“We feel confident we can compete with every team on our schedule,” Tringali said. “Our expectation is as always to compete for conference and district championships and beyond.”
Speaking of a conference championship, Tringali views defending SAC Central Division champion Martin as the Trailblazers’ primary competition.
“Martin has a really good thing going on right now,” he said. “They always play so fundamentally sound and are great on the defensive end. And you can never count out Gobles. They have been as consistent as anyone in West Michigan for many years.”
Culture and health will be the keys for Saugatuck.
“We need to continue to always put our culture first by being the best teammate you can be and playing for each other,” Tringali said. “And, of course, staying healthy is always important. It’s a long season and finding ways to avoid injuries and illness will always be a factor in what direction the season goes.”
Assuming the culture and health pieces fall into place, Tringali believes this should be fun season.
“We’re just really excited about the upcoming season,” he said. “I am very proud of where we are as a program. We have quite a few kids right now where basketball is their primary sport and have put the time in during the offseason.
“We as coaches are going to help do all we can to see if it can all come together.”
By Jason Wesseldyk