The Anderson boys basketball team lost some key seniors to graduation last year. Players like Aaron Jaciuk, Cole Hinzman and, especially, point guard and long-range shooting threat Maxon Walker.
But although those guys will be tough to replace, coach Eugene Kolbusz hopes his seven returning players and a couple of additions from the junior varsity team can help his team compete in the Downriver League this season.
“Losing Jaciuk and Walker is big,” he admitted. “But we have seven quality players coming back and they will have some familiarity with the system. The thing is, I have had virtually no contact with the kids. I don’t know what kind of shape they are in. Hopefully they have been playing some basketball.”
Some things are known, however.
Taking over this season from Walker at the point will be junior Gio Hugan and A.J Gutierrez. Hugan was a starter at shooting guard all last season and so has a great deal of experience. Gutierrez was on the varsity as a sophomore, too, and played a lot.
Another key returnee is senior Daveon Jones, who was also a starter last year. Jones is a big man at 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds and he is an intimidating force under the boards.
Also being counted on for his rebounding, as well as his scoring, is senior Andrew Calhoun, who has grown to 6-3. Calhoun saw plenty of playing time last year, as well.
Others returning to the team and being counted on to play key roles are Jacob Peer, Jordan Foggs and Spencer McMahon, all of whom are well over six-feet tall.
The Titans were a bit of an enigma at times last season, suffering some disheartening one-side defeats and other times playing brilliantly. One of those brilliant times was in the district semifinals when the Titans stood toe-to-toe with a strong Wyandotte team before falling 53-50.
“We should have won,” recalled Kolbusz, ruefully.
With that win, Wyandotte qualified for the district finals, but that game was never played as the first COVID-19 shutdown hit.
Kolbusz and his staff are hopeful that that really good Anderson team that took Wyandotte to the limit, shows up on a regular basis this season.
“I think we’ll be right in the mix with everyone in the league,” Kolbusz said. “I know Woodhaven is returning a ton of guys and they will be really good, but I think we’ll be alright. Hopefully our guys have taken care of themselves and they will be ready when – and if – the season starts.”
It’s the “if” part of Kolbusz’s last statement that concerns everyone involved with high school basketball and high school sports in general.
The recent “pause” in activities that has halted state playoffs in football, swimming and volleyball and delayed the start of all winter season sports, was supposed to end on Dec. 9, but it was recently extended until at least Dec. 21.
Games will not begin until at least after Jan. 4 and there is speculation that the MIchigan High School Athletic Association may amend the rules and allow teams to play up to three games a week instead of just two.
Even that, though, could bring more headaches as teams try to schedule opponents, and, even more critically, to schedule from a limited number of referees.
How it works out remains to be seen. Stay tuned.