Sterling Heights High boys basketball coach Ryan Kay walks the sidelines during a preseason practice. The Stallions’ next game is against Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at home.

Sterling Heights High boys basketball coach Ryan Kay walks the sidelines during a preseason practice. The Stallions’ next game is against Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at home.

Photo by Sean Work


SH High boys hoops looks to build on success

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 20, 2017

 Sterling Heights High senior forward Malot Dushaj puts up a jumper during a preseason practice. The Stallions still have high hopes despite losing six players, including two All-Macomb Area Conference selections, to graduation.

Sterling Heights High senior forward Malot Dushaj puts up a jumper during a preseason practice. The Stallions still have high hopes despite losing six players, including two All-Macomb Area Conference selections, to graduation.

Photo by Sean Work

STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights High boys basketball coach Ryan Kay believes his team is primed for another strong season. 

“Even though we lost a lot of seniors from a team that won 17 games, shared a division title and played in a district final, our goals are still the same,” said Kay, who is in his fifth season with the program. “We want to win a district title, win our division and win the Macomb Area Conference (Silver/Bronze) tournament.”

The Stallions sat at 0-2 overall and hadn’t played a game in the MAC Silver Division at press time. 

Last season, the team went 17-5 and 7-3 in the MAC Silver, sharing the division crown with Marysville High and St. Clair Shores South Lake. The 17 wins were the most for the program in more than 20 years. Sterling Heights High averaged 64.6 points per game in 2016-17 — good for fourth in the 35-team MAC.

Last year’s team was senior-heavy, led by All-MAC selections Antonio Sinishtaj and Shawn Kama. This year’s roster features just three seniors, led by post player Malot Dushaj. Junior wings Joshua Davis and Trenell Payne will also be asked to make major contributions.

Even with the roster turnover — which saw the team lose six players to graduation — Kay expects depth to be a team strength. Kay said overall shooting and athleticism will carry the Stallions too. 

The team is not without questions, though.

“We have to find out if this year’s team can be as good defensively as last year’s,” said Kay, as the Stallions were the 11th-best in the MAC in points allowed per game. “With us losing so many seniors, can this year’s seniors help us achieve our goals? And will our lack of overall height be a factor?”

Sterling Heights and its new players will get a crash course in running Kay’s offensive system.

Kay prefers to run several sets out of the Princeton offense, predicated on moving without the ball and cutting. Kay said the team will still run a number of offensive sets, but will mostly utilize a four-out, one-in motion offense — featuring four perimeter players and one post player.

His players, Kay said, will learn the system in time, and in-game reps can only help. The coach wants everything to be set for the team to make a run at back-to-back division titles.

“Our division will be tough again,” Kay said. “We didn’t lose any non divisional games last year in the regular season, but we dropped three in the MAC Silver and one in the MAC tournament. South Lake returns a lot of players from last season, so we look forward to competing with them and the other teams in our division.”

Sterling Heights next takes the court for a matchup against Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 on the road.