Blue Water Area boys basketball 2022-23 season preview
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
The boys basketball season is set to begin Monday, Dec. 5, with nearly every area team playing at least once next week.
Last winter, Croswell-Lexington, Port Huron Northern, and St. Clair each claimed league titles, and Cros-Lex and Richmond advanced through the postseason with district titles. Between new leagues, big rivalries, and more games, local basketball fans have a lot to look forward to this year.
Let's preview the teams:
AROUND THE BWAC
Coaches are anticipating a strong year for the eight BWAC schools. Cros-Lex returns as the reigning champion with a lot of experience, but its local rivals return plenty of talent as well.
The Pioneers have claimed four of the last 10 conference titles and Richmond has seen the most recent success with back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, making this year’s matchups between the two teams highly-antipcated.
2021-22 Season: 22-1, 14-0 BWAC. Conference and District Champions
Coach: Lance Campbell, entering his sixth season
Key returners: Trey Kolakovich, Zachary Kroetsch, Donovan McDonald, Mitchell Geiger, Trevor Soule, and Landon Butler
Losses to graduation: Jake Townsend, Saige Slanec, Kirk Wilson, and Peyton Edwards
Coach’s comment: We hope to be in contention for the league and a deep tournament run. Our non-league schedule is very challenging. We hope it prepares us for March.
First game: Tuesday, Dec. 6 against Marysville (7:30 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 19-4 overall, 11-3 BWAC (2nd). District Champions
Coach: Josh Presnell, entering his 10th season
Key returners: Marcus Thompson, Quan Haskins, Karl Stevens, Kyle Bartolomucci, Blake Radjewski, Sabastian Maes, Gavin Yelencich, and Trey Graham
Losses to graduation: None
Coach’s comment: We are returning a lot of experience and our conference is very tough. We will have to play very disciplined and together on a nightly basis in order to have a chance.
First game: Thursday, Dec. 8 against Lutheran North (7:30 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 14-8 overall, 10-4 BWAC (3rd)
Coach: Don Gauthier, entering his 14th season
Key returners: Beau Hund, Greg Pawlaczyk, JD Trout, and Zander Nash
Losses to graduation: Grady Nash, Andrew Badder, Holden Redd, Dominic Ljuljdjuraj, David Goodloe, and Xander Nolin
Coach’s comment: We’re excited to get going with a young group. Our non-league schedule is very challenging. Our league has a lot of teams returning key players, and on paper, from top to bottom this looks to be the most talented the BWAC has been since the 2014-2015 season. We want to improve daily and be playing our best by the end of the season.
First game: Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Ecorse (7 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 12-10 overall, 7-7 BWAC (4th)
Coach: Ross Gauthier, entering his first season
Key returners: Clay Roszczewski, Sully Szlaga, Marko Radisavljevic, Cam Bourdeau, and Cole Walton
Losses to graduation: Blake Campbell, Logan Walton, and Rich Rockey
Coach’s comment: The BWAC will be extremely tough this year. We have a great group of young men. We will play hard and compete every day.
First game: Tuesday, Dec. 6 against Clintondale (7 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 11-10 overall, 6-8 BWAC (5th)
Coach: Chris Haller, entering his second season
Key returners: Andrew Sniesak, Riley Andrews, Camden Khon, and Preston Hill
Losses to graduation: Cole Mahaffy, Wyatt Waskin, Nathan Schapman, and Easton Vyt
Coach’s comment: We're returning seven players from the team last year with a lot of skill and talent. The BWAC should be very competitive and will be a fun challenge every night.
First game: Monday, Dec. 5 at Lamphere (7 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 10-12 overall, 5-9 BWAC (6th)
Coach: Garnett Kohler, entering his 10th season
Key returners: Kaleb Gardner, Josh Craig, Logan Vincent, Connor Jakubiak, Ryan Monarch, and Lukas Kriesch
Losses to graduation: Daniel Orrell, Hunter Morisett, and Garret Donnellon
Coach’s comment: Going into the season, I feel we will be improved from last year. We have a group of players who have committed themselves to getting better through the offseason. Our returners have focused on improving in the areas in which they struggled last season. We have a group of newcomers that are excited about playing varsity basketball and ready to take on that challenge. As for the BWAC, I feel the league is going to be very solid from top to bottom. Cros-Lex, Richmond, Imlay City, and Armada all return a wealth of talent to their squads. North Branch returns a very talented back court that is versatile. Almont has keys pieces coming back along with a new coach who brings a ton of coaching experience with him. Algonac brings back some young talent what should grow as the season progresses. Our goal is to improve each day throughout the season and takes steps forward as a team. Go Bulldogs!
First game: Sunday, Dec. 11 against Marlette at Little Caesar's Arena (12 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 2-15 overall, 1-12 BWAC (7th)
Coach: Jack Chittle, entering his first season
Key returners: Will Damaska and Griffin Mayberry
Losses to graduation: N/A
Coach’s comment: We are incredibly excited to get things going this season at North Branch.
First game: Wednesday, Dec. 7 at Bad Axe (7:30 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 2-17 overall, 1-12 BWAC (8th)
Coach: Marcus Sadlowski, entering his first season
Key returners: Alex Schweiger, Matthew Rix, Trevor Schaffer, Ian Avers, Liam Palicke, and Landon Waggoner
Losses to graduation: None
Coach’s comment: We be physical, we will play with purpose, and we expect to be competitive from game one on. Our expectations are high.
First game: Wednesday, Dec. 14 at Memphis (7:30 p.m.)
AROUND THE MAC
After winning the MAC-Blue in undefeated fashion last year, Northern has jumped up to the MAC-White. The rest of our local teams will be competing in the MAC-Silver, making conference competition even more fun as Marine City, Marysville, Port Huron, and St. Clair will battle with Lakeview and Madison for the title.
Port Huron Northern
2021-22 Season: 15-6, 10-0 MAC-Blue. Conference Champions
Coach: Brian Jamison, entering his 24th season
Key returners: Tyler Jamison, Luke Maher, Jacob Clark, Kanye Cole, Charley Dunkel, and Jared McRobie
Losses to graduation: Evan DeLong, Malachi Mitchell, and Ryan Collins
Coach’s comment: There is a lot of optimism surrounding our team this year. We have some key returners as well as some newcomers that should really help us. We are really challenging ourselves with a tougher schedule, but hoping that it will benefit us in the long run.
First game: Saturday, Dec. 10 against Chippewa Valley (6 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 16-6 overall, 8-2 MAC-Gold. Conference Champions
Coach: Matt Distelrath, entering his second season
Key returners: Hunter Richardson, Braylon Essian and Holden Schalk
Losses to graduation: Kai Pennewell, Eli Lohr, Cam Bleasdale, Luke Ellis, Jared Kramp, and Derek Distelrath
Coach’s comment: A lot of new faces, but the guys are putting in the work in the offseason. We are looking to build on the foundation laid by last year's senior group, and we're excited to play in a league with three other local teams. I feel this team will be able to compete in every game
First game: Wednesday, Dec. 7 at L'Anse Creuse (7 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 7-14 overall, 5-5 MAC-Silver (3rd)
Coach: Jeremy Rosenau, entering his second season
Key returners: Dwynell Benjamin, Nate Oriel, Conner Rosenau, and Deonte Foy
Losses to graduation: Brendan Coronado and Aron Smith
Coach’s comment: We're looking forward to the season. We feel like there is opportunity there for the taking. We return seven with a mix of solid young guys that collectively have played a lot since last season.
First game: Wednesday, Dec. 7 against Utica (7 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 5-16 overall, 3-7 MAC-Silver (4th)
Coach: Erik Schunk, entering his fourth season
Key returners: Tyler Simpson, Carter Stevens, Cole Horan, Zach Winston, and Mekhi Radford-Donawa
Losses to graduation: Cole Bowman
Coach’s comment: We are banged up with some injuries from fall sports so our biggest focus is to get healthy and improve throughout the season. If we can get close to full strength by February, we can look to make a run in the postseason.
First game: Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Cros-Lex (7:30 p.m.)
2021-22 Season: 10-12, 4-6 MAC-Bronze (4th)
Coach: Scott Hand, entering his third season
Key returners: Parker Atkinson, Jacob Blanchard, and Josh VandeVyver
Losses to graduation: Graduated nine seniors from last year's roster
Coach's comment: We're young and having fun.
First game: Wednesday, Dec. 7 at Lake Shore (7:30 p.m.)
Who's your favorite to go all the way this season?