REED CITY – Veteran Reed City boys basketball coach Jesse Kailing and his team are in the second week of practices with time winding down before the season opens Dec. 6.

The opener is at home with Cadillac in non-league play. The Central State Activities Association season tips off Dec. 9 at Big Rapids.

“On the varsity team, we have a bunch of returning guys, (eight) returning players, that really helps having the summer (basketball camp) and we kind of go through the same things. Going from there, it’s kind of like riding a bike,” Kailing said. “The first three days, because we had so many kids trying out, we were evaluating talent. On Thursday and Friday, we got more done than we did the first three days.”

This week, Reed City was scheduled to scrimmage at Fremont. Next week, Reed City scrimmages at McBain.

Jared Holmquist, Ricky Droke, Dakota Saez, Chad Samuels and Trent Sims will be among the key returning players. The Coyotes also have 12 players on the junior varsity and 12 on the freshman teams.

Saez played last season for his second varsity campaign.

“We had a successful run as a team toward the end,” Saez recalled of the 2010-11 season, noting that Reed City advanced to the district finals. “I improved a lot (from his sophomore year) just from experience.”

During the offseason, Saez played AAU basketball in June and July.

“I’ll be more of a leader this year, on the court and off,” Saez said. “I’ll be producing whatever way I can.”

Holmquist “will be strong in the paint. It will open things up for the outside shooters,” Saez said, adding that he’s confident in his ball handling abilities against defensive pressure.

“I think we can be real successful as long as we play smart and we play as a team,” Saez said. “We’ve got speed and we have a lot of strength. We’re excited. We’re ready.”

The game with Big Rapids has usually set the tone early for the CSAA race.