FRASER — The Class A boys basketball district tournaments were unkind to Fraser and Chippewa Valley last week, as both local teams fell in the early rounds of the state tournament.
Chippewa Valley saw its season end with a 64-49 loss to Roseville on March 5, while Fraser fell to Warren Mott on March 3.
Chippewa finished an up-and-down season with a 12-10 mark overall and a 6-6 record in MAC Red play. The Big Reds lost several league games by five points or fewer, but they were able to sweep rival Macomb Dakota in the regular season.
“I thought we made great progress at the end. Then, unfortunately, we just ran into somebody that was playing better than we were,” Chippewa coach Kevin Voss said. “We started a couple sophomores who will be back next year, so I think the future looks pretty good, but we’re also disappointed for our seniors. ... We thought that they could win the district.”
Those two sophomore starters who contributed for Chippewa this season are Steven Lloyd and Reed Adams. Voss said that each showed great progress and looks forward to their play in the future.
“They came along really fine this year. Steve (Lloyd) was on the varsity last year, and his defense came along really great this year,” Voss said. “Reed (Adams) came to the table really playing good defense, and his offense came along, as far as being consistent — as far as growing into varsity basketball. He had a great game against Dakota, and with another year’s experience next year, we’re going to see great improvement in those two.”
Trey Moore, Kenneth Gwinn, Chris Pinter, Alex Marko, Andrew Santilli and DeVonne Brooks are the seniors on this year’s Chippewa roster.
Ramblers looking ahead to bright future
With just one senior on this year’s team, Fraser struggled to a 1-19 record, but that didn’t deter coach Marshall Wandrei from still having hope for the sophomore-laden team for the next two years.
The Ramblers graduated 10 seniors from a team that won 37 games and a district title in its last two years.
“We knew it was going to be a building process, and we knew that we would need to have this year of investment in getting things educated, worked on and repped, and build the kids up physically,” Wandrei said. “I think we were all hoping it would be a little bit better than it was as a first step, but having said that, progress from the beginning to the end of the season was really substantial.”
Another aspect of Fraser’s struggles this year was its schedule. The Ramblers played against only upper-division MAC teams, Detroit PSL and Catholic League opponents in addition to their league schedule.
Despite the team’s record, Wandrei said that he was very pleased with how his team stayed together and continued to improve.
“I was very encouraged by the fact that nobody gave up, nobody left the team. We didn’t go into games with a hopeless, helpless feeling,” Wandrei said. “Everybody was optimistic that if we could continue to put things together that we would break through, and we did against Madison. We all knew we were getting better individually and collectively.”
Wandrei said that because of Fraser’s limitations of having a slim talent pool from one feeder program that having a foundation building season like this one has become the blueprint for winning.
“We only have one feeder school, so the basketball athletes are trimmed down to 15 by seventh grade. We have to develop, so we spend a lot of time in the offseason and in-season, and we know that the first season is the investment for the next two years, and we always put sophomores on varsity to give us that opportunity,” Wandrei said.
TJ Felder was the lone senior on this year’s Fraser team, and Wandrei said that he was a great example of someone who developed in the program to succeed in his senior season.
“He had a great year. He was All-League and got All-County recognition. TJ (Felder) did a good job, and that was one of our case-in-points,” Wandrei said. “He didn’t play last year, and he went through a year of development and he had a fantastic year this year.”