Varsity boys basketball team looks to ‘stretch the floor,’ use press to ‘wear out teams’ this year
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball squad has a senior heavy group this year, plus other returning varsity players, but it will have to adjust its style of play after losing two key players to graduation last year.
“We are excited for the challenges for the upcoming season,” Coach Rich Moffit said. “We have a ton of experience back, but we lost two all-staters, Troy Summers and Spencer White, who are playing at the collegiate level. We are working at both ends of the court to make up for the loss of Spencer and Troy.”
“We are definitely going to play at a different pace this year to fit the style of our players,” Coach Moffit said. “Different pace because of our quickness and size. We want to stretch the floor and make games a track meet. We have a number of talented outside shooters, which will put pressure on our opponents.”
“Offensively, Spencer’s versatility allowed us to post him up or allowed us to use him on the perimeter vs. bigger and slower guys. Defensively we funneled everything to Troy so he could use his 6’8” body to alter or block shots. This year, we are going to extend more defensively and allow our press to wear out teams,” Coach Moffit said.
The adjustments started during the offseason, with camps and summer basketball tournaments, Coach Moffit said. The team tried to play against strong competition during the offseason in an effort to get ready for the 2017-2018 campaign.
“We had a solid summer playing vs. some of the top teams in our state,” Coach Moffit said.
Coach Moffit said the squad has four players (three seniors, one junior) that will playing in their third varsity season this year: Justin Nicholas, Trey Moffit, Christian Artress, and Ryan Anderson.
“Justin Nicholas and Trey Moffit each averaged under nine points a game and each had their moments in big games last year. Both players need to play at a consistently high level this year. Point guard Christian Artress is an experienced player at the point and may be one of the toughest defenders at that position that we have had since Gib Tobin. Ryan Anderson was coming into his own last year when he suffered a torn ACL. He is quicker, much stronger, and more confident this year,” Coach Moffit said.
Other senior varsity returners include: Brent Weismiller, Sam Davis, Louis Cotton, Chris Hunter, and Spencer Tomczak.
“Brent Weismiller played solid off the bench last year and played big at Sault Ste. Marie last year; we are expecting a solid season from him. Sam Davis is one of our top defenders and played solid minutes last year. Louis Cotton has improved his game a ton from last year; he is more confident and had a really good summer for us,” Coach Moffit said. “Chris Hunter has improved his shot, but has been battling the injury bug. Hopefully, we can get him healthy. Spencer Tomczak is the glue of this team and is a hard working kid.”
Nick Hunter, a junior, is a varsity returner. Eli Jackson, a sophomore, has a little bit of varsity time from late last season.
“Nick Hunter is probably one of the best athletes on our team and has been restrained from contact during the preseason; he is still recovering from a broken arm where he had a steel plate put in. He has been running and should be ready by game one. Nick changed the complexion of a number of games late last year with his defensive presence,” Coach Moffit said. “Eli Jackson was brought up as a frosh late in the year and is a tough presence in the post. I was really pleased with his summer performance.”
The squad will also have three juniors who played JV basketball with the program last year as sophomores.
“Cam Sova, Conner Brill, and Mitchell Kuziel are all juniors who have improved immensely in the offseason,” Coach Moffit said.
The Vikings will open their 2017-2018 season with a home game against the Gaylord Blue Devils on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The JV game starts at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity contest will follow.
Grayling’s first Lake Michigan Conference contest is slated for Friday, Dec. 15, vs. Traverse City St. Francis.
Coach Moffit said he expects another year of strong competition in the league this season.
“There are a number of teams that can challenge for the LMC crown this year. St. Francis is the defending champion and should be very good. Boyne City and Elk Rapids have a number of kids back and should challenge. Kalkaska has an experienced team back and a new leader. Harbor, Charlevoix, and East Jordan are capable of making noise in the league,” Coach Moffit said.
Other notable games? The Vikings will host a Canadian team – Blessed Cardinal Newman Catholic of Ontario – on Saturday, Dec. 9, and the team will play in the Detroit Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 29.
“This is the toughest nonconference schedule we have had. Toronto Newman Blessed Cardinal is favored to win the Catholic city league in Toronto – talented team. We are playing in the Motor City Roundball Classic, one of the biggest classics in the United States. We are playing a Class A opponent in White Lake Lakeland,” Coach Moffit said. “We feel that playing a challenging nonconference schedule will help us improve immensely and hopefully get us to playing at a championship level.”