NEGAUNEE — Nearly nine months ago, Ishpeming shocked the U.P. basketball scene as they upset the previously undefeated Miners in the pre–districts. And since then, Negaunee has been using that game as motivation to be better this season.
“Yeah the whole summer and every day I’ve been going into practice and even now, that’s my #1 motive. You always have that feeling in your stomach, and it’s just always there so that kind of drives all of us still,” Negaunee guard Dre Tuominen said.
“I’m sure everyone knows I missed a couple of crucial free throws, and that’s been a huge point in the last three weeks and the past summer, just making free throws, shooting them right and hopefully next time, it won’t cost us the game,” said Negaunee center Trent Bell
“It’s something that we addressed in the summer. I don’t want to keep harping on it. It’s something that had to be brought up so we could address the elephant in the room, and then we move on and try to get better each day,” head coach Dan Waterman said.
The Miners will be looking to replace a strong senior class that had a lot of success during their time at Negaunee. Coach Waterman says the message from last year’s seniors is that you have to bring it every day at practice.
“That was part of why we were so good. We had one bad practice for the whole year, and that showed in the games. We were very consistent, game in and game out, with how we did things offensively and defensively in the level of our performance. That’s a lesson that these seniors have carried over and are trying to impart on our younger kids,” said Waterman.
Negaunee has a rich tradition of basketball so they have championship aspirations each year. It’s extra incentive for the seniors who want to bring home the school’s first state title since 2000.
“That would mean everything. Every since I was a little kid watching T.J. and Eric, watching all them play and get to the Breslin. Just getting down there is a huge accomplishment and winning a state championship, that would mean everything to me, especially with putting in all the work in the off-season and everything so it would mean a lot,” Tuominen said.
“I don’t know if there’s pressure. That’s what it’s all about. It’s in those situations having fun and just playing your game. There’s nothing you can expect just do your best and play 100%,” said Bell.
Negaunee will open the season on the road on Tuesday at Escanaba.