Beavs will offer uptempo basketball

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Attack the basket

Dillon’s Jace Fitzgerald drives for a bucket during a game at Frenchtown last season. Fitzgerald, a senior, will be looked upon for leadership with the Beaver basketball team this season. Teri Haverfield photo

The Dillon Beavers will feature an exciting, up tempo style of basketball season as they hope to seize up their speed, length and athleticism to return to the state title basketball game.

“In the older kids we have some reasonable length in some spots and we feel like we can put defensive pressure on the other team,” said National High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Terry Thomas. “Offensively, we feel like we can get up and down the court and use our athleticism to our advantage.”

Thomas will play eight to ten players each game, rotating talent for talent to maintain pressure from start to finish. Four seniors will lead the crew in 6-5 Cole Truman and 6-2 Jace Fitzgerald, both of whom have been playing varsity since they were freshmen. Jonny Reiser 6-1, and Daxon Graham, 5-11, complete the set of senior captains.

Four juniors will complement the senior leaders with the post position getting a boost from 6-7 Callahan Hoffman, 6-3 Connor Curnow, and 6-2 Jonathan Kirkley, all three enjoyed significant varsity time last year. Joining the varsity this year is 5-9 junior Carsten Lemelin.

The remaining varsity slots will be given to a combination of four sophomores and three freshmen. Eli Nourse, a 5-9 point guard, and Caden Hansen, 6-2, will have the inside track on varsity playing time. Nourse played key point guard minutes a year ago.

The balance of the varsity roster will be filled by JV swing players Tyler Lagunas and Treyton Graham, both sophomores, and fab freshmen Kale Konen, Kee Christensen, and Max Davis.

“Long story short, we have great athleticism and good quickness that we will try to use offensively and defensively,” Thomas said. “We should be really fun to watch. The kids have enjoyed the up tempo-type stuff we’ve put in both offensively and defensively, and if the kids will bring their lunch pail and get down there and grind, we’ll have a good chance to be successful.”

Truman, a second team allconference pick a year ago will carry the scoring load early on with help from guard/wing Fitzgerald, an honorable mention pick. Kirkley led Dillon in steals a year ago as a sophomore, and hit some big baskets down the stretch. Curnow will be a force inside.

Look for Graham and Nourse to share point guard duties, with a number of other players available to help break a press with excellent ball handling skills, including off guard Fitzgerald, who has spent time in the point guard position.

Hoffman, the 6-7 athlete, is not the typical big fella inside. He can run the court and has improved his hoop skills in the paint.

Reiser, the 6-1 wing player, will get his minutes of court time. Thomas describes the athlete as “the glue to the thing.” “He gets people excited to play,” said the coach.

The Beavers open the season at Livingston on Saturday. The Rangers have had an ascending program in recent years and will provide a challenge.

“They’ve built up a really nice program,” said Thomas. “We’re expecting it to be a really good opening game for us.”

A year ago, the Beavers finished the season at 7-14, the only season in Thomas’ tenure that the squad suffered a losing record. In his 14 previous season, Thomas built a record of 265-50, which averages out to a 19-4 record every season. From 2007 to 2017, the Beavers under coach Thomas played in eight state A championship games, winning five championships, three runner-up finishes and a third place trophy.