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January 13, 2014

Tower boys hoops team excelling early, despite loss of key players

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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At press time, the Warren Woods Tower boys basketball team had one of the top offenses in the 36-team MAC. Pictured senior guard Corey Clarke, left, looking to elude a defender during a matchup against Warren De La Salle earlier this season.

WARREN — The Warren Woods Tower boys basketball team returned six players from a team that went 13-8 in 2012-13.

Lost to graduation, however, are Michael Patchak and Lamar Thomas, who led the team as seniors that season. Even with the loss of what Titans coach Nick Evola calls a great senior class, the team is off to a 4-1 start. Evola attributes the fast start to the returning players, including some who stepped into the roles vacated by last year’s elder statesmen.

“Our core group has been leading the young guys and helping them get acclimated to the varsity level,” said Evola, in his third year as Tower head coach. “Their hard work and guidance has been a big reason that we have gotten off to a good start.

“Guys have been working really hard. They are locked in and working hard for each other. The leaders have stepped up, and it’s really made a difference.”

Those leaders, Evola said, include senior post player Tawvan Chestnut and senior forward Dwjuan Frazier, both of whom are in their third year as varsity players and captains. Junior forward Darius Jordan and senior guard Corey Clarke, who both logged significant minutes last season, have been strong vocal leaders, Evola said.

Those veteran players have been key cogs in Tower’s offensive attack. At press time, the Titans were averaging 63.4 points per game — good for fifth-highest in the 36-team Macomb Area Conference.

“I think we have been doing a decent job executing offensively,” Evola said. “We definitely like to generate offense off of our defense, and we have been able to get out and run at times. I think we have a good balance up to this point.”

The offense has been strong, but defense is Tower’s staple, Evola said. The team runs a mix of man and zone schemes. At press time, the Titans were allowing 52 points per game. Tower allowed 51.7 points per game last season.

Evola said his players understand that defense played a major role in the team’s success last season. He said each player has been working extremely hard to pick up where they left off.

That defense will have to be strong if Tower is to make headway in the MAC Gold, where it finished third last season. Evola said the league would be extremely tough, as everyone is looking to dethrone Mount Clemens, which has won the last four MAC Gold titles.

Tower, at press time, had not played a league game.

“You have to bring your ‘A’ game every night in this league if you want to have a shot at the title,” Evola said. “Most of the teams in our league are undefeated at this point in the season and coming into league play with some momentum. I’m looking forward to competing every night. It’s going to be fun.”

Tower next squares off against Port Huron in a battle set for 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at Port Huron.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.