Reed City boys basketball team eyes another championship season

REED CITY — Reed City’s boys basketball team is coming off a district championship from last season and most of the players are just weeks removed from another successful football campaign.

But what’s especially consoling for coach Dean McGuire is that this season’s squad will be able to tip off with a somewhat healthier team than a year ago.

The Coyotes are in their third week of preseason practices. They start the season Dec. 8 at home with Cadillac. They’re also home Dec. 11 with Tri County to open the Central State Activities Association Gold Division season.

“The first week of practice, we got our legs underneath us and are doing some nice things, but also some things that need to be corrected,” McGuire said. “This year, we had everybody play football except for one. A lot of them hadn’t touched a basketball in quite awhile.”

The football season extended one week later last year, making it even more of a challenge for Reed City to get into basketball shape by early December. But the Coyotes were able to be at their best by season’s end and win a district title. They graduated some key players but also have some talented players who saw action last season. That includes Mykel Dillard, Andre Jones, Matt Mund, Taylor Pelton, Schuyler Smith and Leland Yonkin. Logan Straub, a junior, saw action on the junior varsity earlier last season and then was pulled up to the varsity.

Compared to last season, “I think we’ll be pretty similar and will work hard,” McGuire said. “We’ll let the chips fall where they may. We have a very hard-working team. I’ve been impressed so far in practice. We have a tough opener with Cadillac. It won’t be easy for us coming out of the gate.”

Reed City isn’t totally healthy right now. The third day of practice this season, Smith went down with an injury and was on crutches.

“That’s a big loss for us,” McGuire said.

But there are other players in the lineup who are healthier than this stage a year ago.

Collin Hatfield, a senior, missed all of last season from a football injury. Prior to that, it was anticipated he could be a contributor for the varsity. He enters this season healthy.

“Collin will do what you ask him to do and will work hard,” McGuire said. “He and Trent Sturgell both missed all of last year. They’re working their tails off. It will take them some time. They’ve been out of basketball for awhile. It’s a matter of confidence. Collin is a senior, but as far as playing time goes, he’s actually a junior.

“The same with Trent. He is an incoming junior and his playing experience is really a sophomore. It’s a learning experience for both those guys. We’re doing a lot of things. Right now, they’re getting the hang of it. It takes longer than others because they haven’t had the playing time. I don’t there’s any substitute for playing time.”

Looking at the division, McGuire sees where Central Montcalm and Chippewa Hills may be rebuilding.

“I think Big Rapids absolutely got better with two transfers (Brenton and Braeden Childress) they got and I think they’re the team to beat right now,” McGuire said. “Grant, I think, returns a lot and they’re huge. Newaygo is always good. I don’t think there will be too many easy games. Central Montcalm and Chippewa Hills always do a nice job of preparing their kids.. There’s no easy team on schedule this year. Big Rapids, in my opinion, would have to be the early favorite.”