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Ready to heat up the court

Jaren Jones fights through Ferndale’s defense during Clarkston Thanksgiving Scrimmage. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
December 08, 2010 - Cagers head into their first game this week after putting two scrimmages under their belt, preparing them for the season.

"It went pretty well," said Dan Fife, Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach, about the boys scrimmage against Bay City on Friday. "I was pretty happy with how they played."

Looking ahead for the season, he added the boys look good but time will tell.

"We will see," Fife said. "We have a lot of young players and a lot of experience to replace. It is always difficult when you have to replace. It's getting the pieces in place."

The team lost three players last year, including their two-year point guard starter. He has four players working on filling in the gap - seniors Nick Tatu and Mark Tynan and juniors Mitch Baenziger and Jaren Jones.

Strengths lie within the shooters on this year's team and returners' experience.

"We have some capable shooters and some nights we can be very good if we are shooting the ball well," Fife added.

The Wolves are working on the little things to aid them as they continue to grow and aim for making it farther than last year's end at the Regional championship playoff.

"The key will be how we defend and rebound," Fife pointed out. "We aren't going to be as tall as we have been. Matt Kamieniecki was a presence (the last four years). We are going back to the little things to be good. We have to make sure we block out and not be lax in that. We have to make sure we are doing the right things."

Most of the junior class have been playing for a long time, which will help them not only this season but next year.

"They are used to playing the right way, they are playing the Clarkston way," added Fife. "The strength in that is what makes us good."

He did note the team is without junior Zach Collins for the season, but he will still lend his leadership and experience to the team.

"We will miss him," said Fife. "But he will be out there. I do think it always helps to have somebody to explain me - what is going on and what I mean. He knows me pretty well."

Pressure in the OAA Red continues to be tough and Fife knows the teams in the league have a lot of experienced returners coming back. The Wolves have three games before holiday break begins, then come back pushing through the league at a steady pace.

They begin with hosting Orchard Lake St. Mary's this Friday, 7 p.m.

"It's their first game and our first game. We have played hard and worked hard. We keep doing that we should be okay," said Fife, adding he has a good relationship with their coach. "George Porritt used to coach with me for a long time. He is a great coach and they play hard. Once the game starts we will be what we always are - competitors."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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