November 21, 2012 - It turns out that when a team does well, everyone wants in.
Senior Tyler Martoia looks for an opening during a team scrimmage on Nov. 16. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
That's the case for the Dragons varsity basketball team, which had 26 kids try out for the 2012 team.
In the 2010 season the team had just three wins. Last season, with 17 kids on the team, the squad went further into the playoff season than any Orion team in history.
"There is a renewed interest in Dragon basketball," said Head Coach Tom Risi. "We've been having tons of kids show up at the meetings and these kids we have not seen before. We're not going to be as large as we were last year, but we'll still be considered a big team. We're going to make up for it with overall athleticism though."
Up and comers for the team this year, according to Risi, will include junior Nate Marcum a big kid who has "great offensive instincts" will help with rebounds. Junior David Henry is a great shooter and runs the floor well. Sophomore Miles Hardy "has a bright future at Lake Orion."
Not to be forgotten, though, are the players that made it happen last year.
Senior point guard Damante Kruse returns to handle the ball, shoot and continue his career as "one of the best point guards in the Oakland Activities Association."
Chaz Miller, a 6'7" senior, will continue to play well from the inside and is one of the "most athletic kids in the program."
Risi will look to Miller to take a leadership role on the team.
Senior Roman Kuster, standing 6'5" will return to replace the 6'8" graduate Brad Watterworth.
Risi said Kuster is an aggressive rebounder and great competitor.
Junior John McCarty has the potential to show what he's truly capable of this year, according to Risi.
"He's coming back for his third year of varsity and he's only a junior," he said. "He's a great all-around player. He's got great court sense and a great shot. He runs the court well and I'm expecting McCarty to have his best year yet. This is the year he comes into his own."
As for Risi, the 10-year coach who started at Orion just one year ago said he's more comfortable with the position this year than he was last year.
It was the off-court work that was much more than he anticipated. Still, this year he said he would have a much easier time now that he knows what to expect.
"I'm looking forward to giving the Dragons another winning year," he said.
Risi coached at Notre Dame Prep before coming to Orion.
The first game is against Lapeer East in a non-league game on Dec. 4.