The Muskie junior and senior boys' basketball teams have been hard at work getting ready for another season ahead.
The junior squad will have a new coach in Corey Smith this season, who now is one of the vice-principals at Fort High after spending a year at Rainy River High School.
Smith believes the Muskies' speed will be one of their biggest attributes this year.
“So far, so good,” he said of the preparation for the NorWOSSA season ahead, which officially kicked off yesterday against the host Kenora Broncos (the outcome wasn't known as of press time).
“I think we have a really strong Grade 9 cohort. So it gives us a bright future for Muskie basketball, that's for sure.”
Comprising the junior roster this season are Kade Oster, Garrett Paul, Emerson Evans, Andros Bruyere, Noah McPherson, Ethan Barker, Tayler Chown, Reed McKinnon, Ashton Barnes, Joaquin Woolsey, Jake McKinnon, Christian Armstrong, Sullivan Spiers, Koda Radigan and Brennan Jourdain.
Smith noted that the team's goals are to play well and win as much as possible. Since he's also new to the 'AA' NorWOSSA level, he's not sure what to expect in terms of competition from the Broncos, Dryden Eagles, and Sioux Lookout Warriors.
“I think it's gonna be tough for some of our Grade 10s because of our strong Grade 9 year,” he predicted.
"They really have to work hard and make sure they're doing what they need to do in order to get some minutes out there.
“Which is good, it breeds some competition within the team, as well,” he reasoned.
"It's my first time coaching here, I was single-A last year, so it'll be nice to see some new teams. I don't know really how we stack up yet. But, again with that strong group I think we have some high expectations.
As for the senior squad, they head into this year as the defending NorWOSSA champion and their size and depth should be a huge strength this season.
The seniors will once again be co-coached by Greg Ste. Croix and Bryce Coyle and they were looking to get off to a strong start against the host Broncos yesterday.
“The keys to a good start will just be getting out and playing the game,” said Ste. Croix.
“We have had over three weeks of practice—it's time to play.”
Returning to the squad this season are Sean Huziak, Ayden Gushulak, Mike Vanderaa, Wyatt Richards, and Dominic States.
The newcomers include Caleb Allen, Garrett Hyatt, Santino Smith, Brayden Christensen, William Richards, Jordan Bazylewski and Brett Schram.
“Goal-setting is always an important step at the start of the season, we try to focus on the process more than wins and losses,” Ste. Croix stressed.
“We are really looking forward to the season and growing as a team.”
Both Muskie basketball teams then will next be in action at the annual Brandon Sun Spartan Invitational tournament slated for Friday through Sunday.
Then they'll resume NorWOSSA action next Tuesday (Dec. 17) against the host Warriors before hosting the Eagles in their home-openers at Fort High on Dec. 19.