2018-01-04 / Sports

Eagles look to snap slide the old-fashioned way

Following a 1-5 start to the season, coach Jim Dybevik and his Lake Leelanau St. Mary boys have some New Year’s resolutions.

“New year. New attitude. New expectations. New commitment,” Dybevik said. “One of our sayings is ‘soaring to excellence,’ and excellence is a state of mind. We have to put in the attitude, work ethic and commitment to make that happen.”

And it starts with defense.

Dybevik said St. Mary (1-5, 0-1 Cherryland) spent four holiday practices focusing on defense, fundamentals and general decision-making.

“If I make a decision to take a shot from 4 feet beyond the arc, it doesn’t matter if I’m a good shooter. That’s a bad decision,” Dybevik said. “It’s little things like making a fake or looking off a pass. We’ve had plenty of people open, but we don’t get them the ball at the right time.”

He said the Eagles, who opened the season with a 53-36 win at Marion, need to get back to basics and play within their skill sets. Flashy one-handed passes may be a welcome sight in the NBA, but not in Dybevik’s Cherryland Conference program.

That said, the team certainly has some talent to work with.

Leading scorer Avery Kohler, for example, reached double figures in each of his first four games. Shawn Grant, a junior, scored 18 against visiting Grand Traverse Academy. Others have shown flashes but, on a team scoring 41.2 points per game, opportunities to pad stats have been limited.

Opportunities to defend have not.

“If we play good hard defense, we’ve got a chance,” Dybevik said.

The first-year St. Mary coach lauded the defensive efforts of Kohler and Cody Campbell, who have been his “best defensive players” thus far.

Others will need to step up.

“Everybody else (can defend),” Dybevik said, “but it’s about taking it to the next level.”

The Eagles will look to bring it on both sides of the court tonight as they host the Traverse City Bulldog Athletic Association.

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