Reed City boys basketball returns key pieces from last year’s district title team

COYOTES: Reed City’s Matt Mund goes up for a layup against Cadillac in a regional final last season. The Coyotes open this season Dec. 8 against the Vikings. (Pioneer file photo)

COYOTES: Reed City’s Matt Mund goes up for a layup against Cadillac in a regional final last season. The Coyotes open this season Dec. 8 against the Vikings. (Pioneer file photo)

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 comforting 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 — albeit not completely healthy.

The third day of practice, Schuyler 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 at this point in the season compared to 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 key contributor on the team. 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 a while. 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. There’s no substitute for playing time.”

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

“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 team early last season and then was pulled up to 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 hardworking 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.”

McGuire said the CSAA Gold should be a tough test this season.

“I think Big Rapids absolutely got better with two transfers (Brenton and Braeden Childress),” he said. “I think they’re the team to beat right now. 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 our schedule this year.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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