2018-01-04 / Sports

Panthers, Norsemen to collide in rematch of district final

By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

One thing will be certain when the visiting Suttons Bay boys take the court against Frankfort tonight: Thomas Hursey will be a marked man.

And for good reason.

Hursey dropped a career-high 34 points in his most recent meeting with the Panthers — a 59-57 Suttons Bay victory in the 2017 district title game.

“I’m sure they’re going to be ready for us,” Suttons Bay coach Ron Anderson said. “Every time we play them, they come at us hard. They play good, solid man-to-man defense and have a lot of experience. That’s going to be a big thing for them, and it’s something we’ll have to overcome.”

Suttons Bay (1-3, 0-2 Northwest) will likely need a better defensive effort than that of its 2017 finale, a 75-48 loss at Glen Lake.

Defense has been the bugaboo for the Norsemen, who have given up 70.3 points per game since beating Traverse City Christian in the opener.

Inexperience has been costly.

“It’s something we have to work at,” Anderson said. “We don’t have a lot of guys that play a lot of basketball (in the offseason). We come into the season and have to teach everything. It’s like starting over sometimes, but the guys have to learn how we want them to play. Sometimes that just comes with playing basketball.

“A lot of other kids in our conference play the AAU circuit. I just don’t have a lot of kids that do that, but the more you play, the more you learn.”

The bright spot for Suttons Bay thus far has been the play of two senior bigs affectionately known as “the Garretts.” Combined, Garrett Keith and Garrett Shananaquet are averaging more than 34 points and 21 rebounds per contest.

Hursey is third on the team in scoring with 11 points per game.

“The Garretts have really been carrying a huge load for us,” Anderson said. “We have to find a way to get Thomas on track and start getting some offensive production, but it’s not our offense that’s suffering; we score enough points to win games. We have to get better defensively and do the little things that make a team successful.

“And we have to be able to stop someone when we need to.”

Anderson said his team had a chance to work on defense while grooming some younger players last week in a three-team scrimmage with Manistee Catholic Central and the Traverse City Bulldog Athletic Association.

“We didn’t have all of our kids there, but we got some kids some playing time,” he said. “That was needed.”

The boys will host Leland on Tuesday and Kingsley next Thursday.

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