Chips, Sabers stay busy in summer

Manistee guard Emily Thompson (left) drives to the basket during a game against Salem on Friday during the first day of the Manistee Lakeshore Classic. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The first official practice of the girls basketball season is still four months away, but like nearly every team in the state, Manistee and Manistee Catholic Central aren’t wasting the summer.

Both teams are competing this weekend in the Manistee Lakeshore Classic — a six-team camp hosted by the Chippewas at Manistee High School.

“With the team camps, you learn to build chemistry and learn to work together,” said incoming Manistee senior Stephanie Smogoleski. “You learn how each person works on the court and it just helps you figure it out so you don’t have to take all that time during the season. You can just get ready and go and get to it.”

Both teams are also going through coaching changes with Todd Erickson taking over for Kenn Kott at Manistee after leaving MCC. The Sabers have yet to hire Erickson’s replacement and are being temporarily led by former Brethren boys coach Travis Walker, while Jeff Janowiak has chipped in on the bench as well.

“I think it’s been a little hard not having coaches,” said incoming MCC senior Alysha Heck, “but Travis has been with us the last couple weeks and that’s nice just to have someone there to guide us.”

The Manistee Lakeshore Classic started Friday and ends today. Joining Manistee and MCC are Class A teams Traverse City West and Salem, Class C Jonesville and Class D Portland St. Patrick.

Manistee, which had already played in camps at Frankfort, Benzie Central, Mason County Central and Hope College, dropped its first two games on Friday to TC West and Salem before closing the day with wins over Portland St. Patrick and Jonesville.

“When they zeroed the clock out, I didn’t care if they kept it at zero,” Erickson said. “I just want the kids to get out and play and execute. That’s how I look at it — execution and breakdowns. You get a feel for who plays more comfortably with who.”

Manistee Catholic Central guard Amber Robke shoots against Jonesville. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

The Chippewas return every player but one from last year’s team and had a trio of newcomers playing with them as well on Friday. It’s essentially the same group as last summer, but with a full season of varsity experience under the belt of what will be a mostly sophomore and junior team.

“No matter how old you are,” said incoming sophomore Emilee Kott, “you’re playing varsity level right now and you’ve got to step up and be ready.”

MCC, which also played at Hope, lost all three of its games on Friday, falling to Jonesville, Portland St. Patrick and Salem. The Chippewas have two games left today and the Sabers will play three more.

“The experience is nice,” Heck said. “There’s bigger teams, bigger classes of schools. We get better competition so that helps us once we get to the regular season.”

Walker said the Sabers have competed well the last few weeks and he’s happy to have a camp in town.

“I’m glad they do this over here because you drive two hours and play four games a day and it’s really tough,” he said. “It’s nice being able to come here with fresh legs. They go home and sleep in their own beds and come back tomorrow.”

 

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