North boys basketball has division championship on the mind

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 5, 2017

 Grosse Pointe North senior Henry Zalewski, left, goes up for a shot at a recent practice. The Norsemen return eight players from last season’s squad.

Grosse Pointe North senior Henry Zalewski, left, goes up for a shot at a recent practice. The Norsemen return eight players from last season’s squad.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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GROSSE POINTES — When Grosse Pointe North’s boys basketball team won a Macomb Area Conference White Division championship last season, it was the first time the program had accomplished that feat since 2009.

While it was a nice accomplishment, it was one North shared with Utica Ford II after both programs went 8-2 in the MAC White.

“I think being there last year, being in that position, they understand what it takes,” coach Ron Kochan said of his team. “We would like to win it by ourselves, but there’s good teams, good coaches in our league.”

Junior Ryan Webb also isn’t in the mood to share a MAC White championship this season.

“I think it’s really important to our team that we get that title — like, it’s only ours,” Webb said.

Last year, North lost to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in a Class A district championship. With eight returning players from last season’s squad, the Norsemen could once again be in a strong position to contend for a postseason championship.

North has not won a district title since 2009, and doing so would be yet one more way to continue to elevate the program.

“Being in that position last year, I don’t know if we were ready, programwise, to take that step,” Kochan said. “This year, I think with the amount of guys we have back and the success we’ve been having, I think that’s (an) immediate goal for us and something that is there for us to grab.”

Senior Tyler Hill expressed optimism about North’s chances.

“A league championship and a district title should be very attainable,” Hill said.

Some lessons from last season can help put North in a better position this season.

“I think we found out that a lot of our losses came from turnovers,” Kochan said. “That’s a big area and emphasis of improvement for us. ... We also we (want to) increase the number of passes that we have in a game. One of our sayings that we’ve had is, ‘Let’s let the ball find the best shot.’”

Kochan cited depth and versatility, as well as being more balanced, as a few of the team’s strengths.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Kochan said. “I think every year, we’ve gotten a little better. … Our freshman and JV coaches are doing a great job; my assistant coaches on varsity are doing (an) excellent job. I think we have good pieces in place where this can be really successful for us.”

Up next, North plays at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at home against St. Clair High.

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