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Lancers ready to take next step

L’Anse Creuse boys hoops ready to build on success

By: Jon Malavolti | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 7, 2011

 L’Anse Creuse junior John Johnson and the Lancers open their season at 7 p.m. 
Dec. 12 against Port Huron Northern at home.

L’Anse Creuse junior John Johnson and the Lancers open their season at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 against Port Huron Northern at home.

Photo by Donna Agusti

“Success breeds success” is a cliché commonly used in sports.

And before Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse’s boys basketball team has even played an official game this season, that saying seems to be true for the Lancers.

Last year, the squad won its first district title in 35 years.

At tryouts this year, coach John Haas began to see the dividends of that success pay off.

“Anytime you have success in one season, it carries over to the next season in some capacity,” the coach said. “We saw that early when we had an overwhelming number of boys try out for the varsity team this year compared to previous years.

“This speaks loudly to their desire to play for their school and possibly enjoy the same success as last year’s team.”

But the Lancers aren’t resting on last year’s laurels. Haas said his coaching staff hasn’t “mentioned last year once to this team.”

“It is an entirely new team that needs to carve our their own identity and not feel like they are playing in the shadows of last year’s team,” the coach said. “We have a great group of young men who come ready to learn and compete each day. They don’t need to hear, ‘Well, last year we did this … or ‘Last year, we did that.’ The players need to hear, ‘This year, we need …’”

This year’s team will certainly have a different makeup, as only four players return. All four —Josh McCarthy, Brendan Wright, Scott Pozolo, and JaWaun Hodges — are seniors, who Haas said “should have an impact on the floor at both ends and in the locker room.”

“All four have grown up to be hard-working students and great role models for our younger players to look up to,” the coach added.

In addition to the four seniors, Haas noted that a pair of juniors should also be key contributors. The coach said that Maerit Riley has “shown the ability to be effective everywhere on the court,” and John Johnson “should add toughness in the paint.”

Haas added that several newcomers to the varsity will be competing for playing time and all have shown improvement in the preseason. The coach mentioned senior Caleb Trent, juniors Ben Dahalic, Will Carter, R.J. Vann and Colin Meister, and sophomore Trevon Boswell in that light.

The Lancers have been working hard to overcome the early obstacles of inexperience at the varsity level.

“We only returned four players, so it has been a challenge for the new players to pick up the system and the speed we need to practice at in order to compete when the regular season begins,” Haas said. “However, there has not been a day that we have left the gym where we did not get better in some area of the game.”

Improving every day is essential to the team’s goals and blueprint for success.

“Our No. 1 goal this season is no different than any other year, which is to focus on the things that we control on a daily basis,” Haas said. “This includes competing harder than our opponent every moment we step on the court, communicating to each other at both ends of the floor and playing fundamentally sound basketball.

“We know if we execute these areas of the game that we control, then we will maximize our potential,” the coach continued. “Whether that equates to five wins, 10 wins, a league championship or a district title, we don’t get caught up in that. We are only concerned about being a better team at the end of each day in the areas that we control.”

L’Anse Creuse is scheduled to open the season at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 against Port Huron Northern. The Lancers will enter Macomb Area Conference Red Division play at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at Romeo High.

The team will also face Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, Chippewa Valley, Macomb Dakota, Utica Ford II, and Utica Eisenhower in league play.

Check out the Jan. 4 edition of the Journal for a MAC boys basketball division-by-division preview and a breakdown of what the Lancers will be up against in the Red Division this season.