Varsity boys basketball team to feature young, athletic group
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity boys basketball team from Grayling High School – a group that’s young but athletic, according to the coach – will open its 2019-2020 season with two nonconference home games next week.
The squad has only four returning varsity players: seniors Eli Jackson, Garrett Reilly, and Mason Manning, and sophomore Dylan Cragg.
“We’re awfully young. Awfully fresh,” Coach Rich Reilly said. “We are really young and inexperienced.”
The boys basketball team started its official practice sessions for the year on Monday, November 18. Coach Reilly said the early sessions went well.
“It’s been really good. These kids are working really hard,” Coach Reilly said.
Coach Reilly said the strength of the group is its athleticism.
“I think we’re really, really athletic,” Coach Reilly said. “Right now they seem really cohesive.”
Coach Reilly said the team’s practices have been centered around getting tougher and building a more competitive mindset.
“Competitiveness, toughness, and rebounding. Those will be the keys to our season. If we can rebound the ball we’ll be okay,” Coach Reilly said. “I’m hoping to use our athleticism a lot in a different way than last year.”
Coach Reilly said the program added weight training work to its practice schedule this season.
“They’ve been working hard in the weight room,” Coach Reilly said.
Goals for the team? Be competitive every time on the floor, and win games.
“Certainly, winning. They feel they can win right now,” Coach Reilly said. “We have to compete in everything. If we can that’ll make us better. Teams may overlook us because of the lack of experience.”
“I believe they’ll compete really hard. My expectation is to win. We can compete in every game. I think we’re going to have really good leadership with Garrett and Eli,” Coach Reilly said.
The team will start its 2019-2020 season with two home games. The Vikings will host Standish-Sterling Central on Tuesday, December 10. On Friday, December 13, Grayling will host Traverse City Christian. On both nights, the junior varsity teams will play at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity games will follow.
On Tuesday, December 17, the varsity boys basketball team will begin the Lake Michigan Conference portion of its schedule with a game at Harbor Springs.
Coach Reilly said he expects the league to have some good teams again this year.
“I think we can finish in the middle to the upper part of the league,” Coach Reilly said.
He said the first few games on the schedule will be a good indicator of the squad’s progress.
“That’ll be a good litmus test for us,” Coach Reilly said.
“I think if we can rebound the basketball and be competitive we’ll surprise a lot of people,” Coach Reilly said. “I really like these kids. They’re good kids. They’re smart. They get along. They’re coachable.”