TRACK AND FIELD
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POLSON PIRATES BBALL PREVIEW
December 13, 2013Northwest Montana A Conference
2012-13 Boys Basketball Preview:
Northwestern A Polson Pirates
by John Heglie
Another basketball preview profiling the Polson Pirates is featured in print by Leader Sports Editor Mark Robertson in the Thursday, 28 November 2013 issue of the Lake County Leader entitled: “BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW” Lake County Leader (Th. 28 Nov 2013) B2.
For the benefit of those who may find reading such a comprehensive presentation somewhat cumbersome, section headings have been provided so that one can skip past portions deemed of less interest to a reader in order to get to those portions considered to be of greater significance. LAYOUT = previous season recap, roster attrition, current player roster(s), season analysis
1) SYNOPSIS RECAP OF THE PRECEDING 2012-13 SEASON
The 2012-13 rendition of last year’s Polson Pirates (1-7 NWA conference, 7-14 overall) can largely be summed up as a team of irregular fortunes, vacillated between brilliantly executed basketball in some cases while plagued by fractured fundamentals that emerged during the course of others. While the outcome of their conference slate was less than desirable, they held their own against nonconference competition, splitting that portion of their schedule evenly 5-5 which included a sweep of Corvallis and wins over Anaconda, Hamilton and Eureka. Five of their combined season losses were within a single score or less, games from which they could have emerged victorious had due diligence been exercised to capitalize upon strategic opportunities.
2) GRADUATION, ADAPTATIONS & ATTRITION IMPACTING PIRATE ROSTER
Last year’s rendition of Polson Pirate basketball graduated a quartet of seniors from their roster. They include basketball all-conference 1st-team post Riley Sampson, basketball all-conference 2nd-team guard Will Davey as well as forwards Dylan Kelley and Hayden Congdon, who collectively tallied over half of the almost a thousand overall team points scored last season as well as accounted for sixty percent of the rebounding.
In addition to his all-conference 1st-team basketball credentials, Sampson garnered multiple accolades in both football as well as track & field. In the field events he was decorated twice all-state, twice NWA divisional champion, twice all-conference as discus thrower; 2013 state champion, twice all-state, twice NWA divisional champion, thrice all-conference as shotputter. In football, he was conferred 2012 NWA offensive co-MVP, twice all-state, twice all-conference 1st-team offensive guard as well as twice defensive all-conference (1st-tm DL 12, 1st-tm DE 11). His three year prep career basketball stat totals include 329 points (4+114+211), 267 rebounds (12+126+129), 21 blocks (2+4+15), 27 steals (2+17+8) and 19 assists (0+9+10). Sampson is extending his athletic career at the collegiate level throwing in the field events for the MSU Bobcats.
Above and beyond his all-conference 2nd-team basketball credentials, Davey garnered multiple accolades in both football as well as tennis: TENNIS doubles all-state, 2011 NWA conference champion, two-time all-conference and FOOTBALL 2012 NWA defensive co-MVP, twice all-state, thrice all-conference strong safety (1st-team 12/11, 2nd-team 10), twice all-conference (1st-tm 12, 2nd-tm 11) receiving corps as well as all-conference 1st-team return specialist. His three year prep career basketball stat totals include 260 points (28+90+142), 204 rebounds (6+90+108), 4 blocks (0+1+3), 85 steals (6+32+47) and 89 assists (3+35+51). Davey is extending his athletic career at the collegiate level playing defensive back for the Montana Tech Orediggers.
Kelley was decorated all-conference (1st-tm CB) in football and his two year career basketball stat totals
include 67 points, 51 rebounds, 3 blocks, 18 steals and 29 assists.
The prep athletic accomplishments of Congdon include GOLF all-state, four-time all-conference and TENNIS doubles all-state, twice all-conference recognition. His two year career basketball stat totals
include 132 points, 80 rebounds, 3 blocks, 16 steals and 29 assists.
The Pirate roster is further impacted by attrition from the transfers of occasional starters Cedric Earthboy and Derek Peel, who both contributed close to a hundred points apiece to the offense. Both had turned in a pair of double figure scoring outings. The most productive outing for Peel took place in a JV contest against the visiting Glacier Wolfpack sophomores, where he connected for a whopping 35 points (7-18 3FG, 3-5 2FG, 8-9 FT).
3) POLSON PIRATE 2013-14 BASKETBALL ROSTER(S) - VARSITY
Football all-state, twice defensive all-conference (1st-tm 13 S, 2nd-tm 12 CB) as well as offensive all-conference (1st-tm WR) and basketball all-conference 2nd-team senior 5-11 guard Cedrick Smith reeled in multiple dozens of passes for more than 500 yards over the course of the past pair of seasons on the gridiron. When it comes to the hardcourt, Smith undergoes a kind of X-Men metamorphosis in that he reverses roles to assume that of the dispenser, having dished just over a half century of assists to set the table for others. His offensive tally last season fell just shy of cresting the double century plateau, so opponents can anticipate that he will be aiming to exceed that goal in his final season of prep basketball.
Football two-time all-conference (QB - 2nd-tm 13, hm 12) senior 6-2 guard/forward Andrew Weltz completed 155 passes for 2287 yards as a gridiron quarterback the past pair of seasons for the Pirates. Opponents can anticipate that he will orchestrate a few more completions to teammates making a fastbreak down the sideline of the hardcourt as he works to spark the offense with more of some of those crisp, on-the-button passes to his roundball receiving corps.
Junior 5-10 guard Chris McDonald tends to be a multiple threat with a basketball - able to net points when open with a nice shooting touch that is complimented by peripheral court awareness for dishing the ball to others when tightly defended. McDonald further accentuates the quality of his play with an aptitude for anticipation, evident from his status as third leading offensive rebounder on the team last season.
The quickness of junior 5-10 guard Zadin Bautista provides the Pirates with another prong on the fork of their fast break attack. His adept ball handling skills and slashing capability likewise create opportunities for penetrating opposing defensive alignments.
Football all-conference (hm IL) junior 6-1 post/forward Joe Gallatin adds athletic versatility to the Pirate lineup with multi-faceted capabilities. This galloping Gallatin can make quick cuts for maneuvering around defenders as he slashes toward the basket as well as possesses durability for wading into traffic when crashing the boards for a rebound.
Junior 5-8 guard Andrew Curley, a Mission Valley transfer from Ronan via Two Eagle River, adds some gears to the transmission of the backcourt engine as well as provides the Pirates with a deep threat option for dialing the operator long distance when it comes time to place a call from behind the arc.
Football all-conference (hm CB) sophomore 6-2 forward Hudson Smith has a long reach that often forces shooters to alter the trajectory of their shot attempts as well as good hands for making things happen around the basket at the offensive end of the spectrum.
Sophomore 5-9 guard Peyton Lefthand can be likened to a maître d’ of a fine establishment - sometimes setting the table for others by keeping a wary eye on the lookout for an assist when he is not shaping the tempo of the offense with deceptive quickness as well as sound ball-handling skills. His shooting touch from mid-range as well as long distance mark him as a scoring threat when left unattended.
Football all-conference (hm WR) freshman 6-0 guard/forward Tanner Wilson infuses the team with an extensive AAU basketball resume. Wilson was part of a quartet of talented freshman players who went undefeated to win their bracket at the Spokane 3-on-3 tournament this past summer, dispatching teams from Seattle, Spokane and Bozeman among others.
Managerial and statistical duties will be conducted by Jaelyn Ellenwood, Nicole Howell and Tim Marshall. Additional logistical support may be supplemented by others whose identities had not been confirmed by the time this article was released for public viewing.
PIRATE JV & FROSHMORE BASKETBALL ROSTERS
Some players among the Pirate Junior Varsity squad could see action in expanded roles as varsity reserves as the season progresses when further development and mastery of certain aspects of their games accelerate and mature. The JV roster is comprised of some who split duties on the court with the varsity as well as junior 5-7 guard Grey Fitzpatrick and a quintet of sophomores in 5-8 Anthony Morigeau, 5-9 Jacob Clairmont, 5-10 guard Jake Harrod, 5-10 forward KC Gieber and 6-1 forward/post Wyatt Ducharme.
Fitzpatrick is a hustling player with long-range shooting capability who can net points off kick-outs. Clairmont sandwiches basketball between roles carrying the ball in the backfield during football as well as running sprints and jumping hurdles during track season, indicators of quickness and speed among his athletic capabilities. Harrod was selected KERR radio “player of the game” for his efforts as part of the receiver corps during an early season football loss against visiting Dillon, indicative of good hands as well as a sharp eye for handling a ball.
The froshmore squad is comprised of incoming freshmen Marquis Asken, Jaden Bautista, Cadis Chowning, Danny DiGiallonardo, J’von Johnson, Colin Kenney, Noah McDonald, Iseah Mathias, Matthew Rensvold, Tim Russell, Matt Sitter, Kabe Webster and Walter Wood.
4) SEASON PREVIEW - ANALYSIS AND PROGNOSIS
Head varsity coach Brad Pluff embarks upon his fifth year at the helm of the Pirates, aided by assistant coaches Colton Woods as well as Vern Hewankorn along with Polson’s own version of Duke University Coach K in frosh coach Joey Kolattukudy. With the attrition of half a dozen contributors on account of graduation or transfers, the 2013-14 rendition of the Polson Pirate lineup would have to be classified under the rubric of rebuilding. But opponents would be ill advised to overlook the capabilities of the remaining returnees and the infusion of newcomers.
The Polson backcourt appears to be in good shape with Cedrick Smith as a centerpiece to compliment with an array of remaining ball handling Pirates at the guard position. While Polson post position players tend to gravitated toward the undersized side of the spectrum, their capabilities to gain vertical elevation as well as their long reach makes up for some of the differential that a lack of inches in height might suggest. Due to turnover, roles played at the forward position are in the process of being recalibrated with new players, but newer candidates for filling vacancies hold much promise for contributing points as well as reeling in boards around the paint.
As Polson embarks upon a new season, it is anticipated that the Pirates will likely rely on spreading the wealth around as they shoulder scoring responsibilities as well as share defensive burdens. Since the team possesses no significant height advantage over its opponents, high percentage shot selectivity will need to be exercised to lower extensive reliance upon pounding the boards to retrieve misses. To counteract any those inch advantages held by other teams, superior positioning will be called upon to fend off players less vertically challenged. If Polson players become more adept at reading trajectories and anticipating caroms off the backboard, they can turn what might initially appear to be a disadvantage when it comes to height into their favor by being the first one to arrive on the scene before the ball descends. One asset the team will have as an advantage will be overall team speed as several players are capable of shifting through the gears. But they will need to convert those shot opportunities when favorable occasions present themselves.
In fixing some of the fundamental foibles that arose last season, one area the Pirates will be focused upon will be improving upon their shooting from the charity stripe. Polson finished at the bottom of the conference in this category last season, shooting under the fiftieth percentile as a team. Since they lost five games by a basket or less during a below .500 season, converting a couple of free throws would have reversed the outcome of some of those games and could have moved the Pirate record above .500 in the process. Another area where the Pirates will seek to improve upon is at the defensive end, where they also finished at the bottom of the conference in steals. Improvements in both of these team stat categories will be reflected in an improvement of the Polson Pirate basketball fortunes.
Where might Polson Pirate plundering possibilities stratify among the NWA conference hierarchy as a new season unfolds? It is anticipated that the Columbia Falls Wildcats will continue to be the team to beat. The Cats return the most decorated experience in all-state, all-conference 1st-team senior 6-4 forward Jared Trinastich, all-conference 2nd-team senior 5-9 guard Alex Presnell along with all-conference honorable mention junior 5-10 guard Ty Morgan to provide a sound nucleus around which the rest of the roster can rotate. The Frenchtown Broncs graduated a sizeable contingent of their divisional runnerup roster, but still return all-state, twice all-conference (1st-tm 13, 2nd-tm 12) senior 6-2 guard John Chapman and all-conference honorable mention junior 6-4 forward Bridger Truett.
The Whitefish Bulldogs return a trio of team captains in all-conference honorable mention senior 5-11 guard EJ Havens, senior 6-4 forward Art Doorn (golf 2x all-state, 3x NWA div champ, 3x all-conf) along with senior 6-1 forward Hugh Ramlow among others. Libby returns the biggest gun in the conference in all-state, twice all-conference 1st-team senior 6-1 guard Jared Winslow. Utilizing returning all-conference accolade players as a template from which to prognosticate the fortunes of a season that has yet to commence, one might speculate that Polson appears to be in the running to move up from the rankings last season to contend for a higher place standing in the conference. But teams are comprised of more than just players who garnered postseason recognition. It is the rest of the roster that revolves around those most experience players that will shape the outcome of games during the course of the season. Those performance indicators have yet to register on the richter scale of the basketball court, so this analysis will have to concede that it is too early to tell where they might stratify among the conference standings. If the Polson Pirates can execute with precision enough of the game fundamentals to force their opponents to teeter on the precipice of the plank of uncertainty, they could fare much better than they did last season.
Varsity competition for Polson commences with the NWA vs. SWA Tip-Off Tournament jointly hosted by Ronan and Polson the weekend of December 13-14 with games against Dillon and Anaconda.
stats courtesy of Terry Werner culled from nwmta <ihigh.com/nwmta> website archives
select player input provided courtesy of the basketball coaching staff