By DOUG DONNELLY
Talk about having a target on your back.
Summerfield’s boys basketball teams enters the 2021 season not only having won back-to-back TCC championships, but hold a league-record 28 game win streak.
The good news for the rest of the TCC is Summerfield graduated seven seniors. The bad news is Summerfield should be solid again with two returning starters and a host of underclassmen ready to prove themselves.
The league will have a different look to it as Erie Mason replaces Clinton. The Eagles won back-to-back Lenawee County Athletic Association championships in 2018-19 and 2019-20. The Eagles will play their first-ever TCC game Tuesday when they host Morenci.
The season starts tonight as Britton Deerfield hosts Lenawee Christian in a non-league game. There is a full slate of TCC games Tuesday.
Here’s a team-by-team preview of the season:
2019-20: 12-10 (7-5 in TCC)
Coach: Darren Shiels, 12th season (81-147)
Returning starter: Nico Johnson, Jr.
Other returning players: Mason Mueller, Jr.; Dominic Arriaga, Sr.; Evan Wielraert, Sr.
Newcomers: Hunter Wynn, Jr.; Karl Wielraert, Jr.; Tristan Johnson,So.; Logan Shiels, Fr.; Clayton Hauser, So.
Player to watch: Nico Johnson is BD’s top returning scorer at 11 points a game. “Nico is very athletic and has a very high basketball IQ. He has very good leadership skills and work ethic.”
Coach says: “With no summer basketball this last year and being off since November. The non-contact practices made it tough to get ready, but my hope is all the shooting drills will help speed up the process of the removal of the rust.”
Season opener: Monday vs. Lenawee Christian
Coach: Kevin Skaggs, 10th year (118-79)
First year in the TCC
Returning starters: Tanner Herrera, Sr., Dylan Worden Sr.
Other returning players: Aidan Keane Sr., Chris Worden, Jr., Mark Sweeney, Jr., Spencer Zaleski, Sr., Gage Reams, Sr., Chris Lemle, Sr., Blake Hundey, Sr.
Newcomers: Zach Brown, Sr.; Carson Brown, So.; Jaden Sipert Jr.; Tate Gill, Jr.; Trevor Kamm, Jr.; Casey Brown, So.
Coach says: “This will be the most balanced group we’ve had in my 10 years at Mason. How quickly this group can develop team chemistry and stay focused on the continual improvement needed to perform at their highest level is the key to our season.”
Season opener: Tuesday vs. Morenci
2019-20: 9-12 (7-5 in TCC)
Coach: Erik Thompson, 4th season (27-36)
Returning starters: Austin Burciaga, So.; Rovahn Roberts, Sr.
Other returning players: Max Palpant, Sr., Marcel Theriot, Sr.; Jordan Benson, Sr.; John Neal, Jr.; Davion Wheeler, Sr.
Newcomers: Jaden Ashford, Sr.; Dominic Regalado, So.; Xavier Powers, Jr.; Carter Grof, So.; Demetrio Soto, Sr.; Ashton Stratton-Guzman, Sr.; Alex Murry, Jr.
Players to watch: Roberts is coming off a big football season. “He has worked hard on his shooting and is capable of hitting outside shots now to go along with his driving, transition game, and defense.”
Coach says: “Hopefully our shooting is better this year. We have a lot of guys who can hit the outside shot consistently, which should give our post players and slashers more room.”
Season opener: Tuesday vs. Summerfield.
2019-20: 9-13 (7-5 in TCC)
Coach: Jed Hall, 3rd season (17-26)
Returning starter: Breckin Alcock, Sr.; Rodney Zimmerman, Sr.
Other returning players: Braylon Stover, Jr.
Newcomers: Jacob Reincke, Jr.; Trey Nieman, Jr.; Landon Mansfield, So.; Bryson Bachelder, So.
Player to watch: Alcock was second team All-TCC a season ago. “He’s a great athlete and is great with the ball in his hands and plays at a nice pace.”
Coach says: “I think we’ve got good basketball players with nice size and athletic ability. We’ve got some guys who can really put it in the hole and some defensive stoppers.”
Season opener: Tuesday at Erie Mason
2019-20: 2-19 (1-11 in TCC)
Coach: Joe Long, 3rd season (2-38)
Returning starters: Shane Skinner, Tyler Waltz, Gavin Elliott
Other returning players: George Hillard, Trey Smith, Sam Montencinos, Will Alexander, Jacob Alston
Newcomers: Dylan Hague, Avery Barker, Dawson Riddle, Caleb Verlinde
Coach says: “We have seven seniors and with Will Alexander, Jacob Alston, and Caleb Verlinde coming back out it changes the dynamic of our team. Defense will be the key and the speed we have.”
Season opener: Tuesday at Whiteford
2019-20: 19-2 (12-0)
Coach: David Raymond, 8th year (88-60)
Returning starters: Ethan Eyler, Sr.; Brock Olmstead, sr.
Other returning players: Devin Albain, Sr.; Alex Gonzales, Sr.; Markus Hewitt, Sr.; Roman Iott, Jr.
Newcomers: Gavin Gietz, Sr.; Austin Porter, Sr.; Drew Dafoe, Jr.; Brandon Thompson, So.
Player to watch: Olmstead is in his third year on the Bulldog varsity and has been a steady player for the Bulldogs all along. “He was playing his best basketball of his career at the end of the last season and he is looking forward to picking up where he left off,” Raymond said.
Coach says: “With losing seven seniors from last year’s team, there is a lot of opportunity for guys to step into new roles. Some of these kids have been waiting two years to get their turn to show what they can do and they are hungry. How tehse new players fill in the empty spaces will determine how good we can be.”
Season opener: Tuesday at Madison.
2019-20: 2-19 (2-10)
Coach: Nick Abalos, 3rd year (9-33)
Returning starters: Luke Masserant, Sr.; Cole Giesige, Jr.; Levi Hillard, Jr.; Luka Rasor, So.; Shea Ruddy, So.
Newcomers: Jack Andrews, Jr.; Isaiah Joerin, Jr.; Caleb Willis, Jr.; Ty Ruddy, Jr.; Josh Hill, Fr.; Evan Parker, Fr.; Noah Stevens, Fr.; Hunter DeBarr, Fr.; Lincoln Joerin, Fr.
Player to watch: Masserant tore his ACL during football season but has worked extremely hard in his rehab and hopes to return to the team. If so, it will be his third season on the varsity. “He brings experience to the team. We are hopeful that he will get a chance to play this year,” Abalos said.
Coach says: “We have a very young team, similar to last year. We will be athletic, and eager to prove ourselves. We have to take care of the ball and play stingy defense this year. I believe that this is a group that will be competitive and get better with every week.”
Season opener: Tuesday vs. Sand Creek