WEST ISHPEMING — For the Westwood boys basketball team, the best day of their lives was last year’s district finals win over Ishpeming, and now they must remember the past to prepare for the future.
“The place was packed, from the floor to the ceiling with people. It kind of reminded me of basketball here 20 years ago and brining back that electricity that the gym was just full of,” head coach Chad Hewitt said.
“It was packed. It was a packed stadium. We played really hard. They played hard, too. But we were lucky and came out on top,” said guard Austin Pierpont.
The Westwood boys basketball team went on an improbable run last season, making it all the way to the Class C state quarterfinals. And on that magic ride, this year’s seniors learned a lot from the players they will be taking over for.
“We’ve got big shoes to fill, definitely for us seniors. We got to take the leadership roles that they left. We got to be talking on defense, keeping our juniors and sophomores up. We got to keep them in the spirits of the game, and bruises have bruises,” guard Brett Fredrickson said.
“They taught me to play hard and play with everything I have. Play really tough defense and don’t let anyone get easy buckets,” said forward Jarod Anttila.
“We’re just going to keep all the juniors and sophomores in check. We got to teach them how to play defense and tell them to hustle, and teach them everything that the seniors taught us,” Pierpont said.
“They never gave up and they played hard from the tip to the final buzzer. Anything can happen in a basketball game. Somebody catches fire, somebody gets hot, do the little things right and anybody could win,” said Hewitt.
The Patriots are one of several teams in the conference that lost a strong senior class, but they still have high expectations to make another deep run in the playoffs.
“We’re going to have to be in very good shape. We’re going to have to play extremely good defense and hold teams to low scoring points, and let our offense do what it does,” Fredrickson said.
“You have to come out every time in the gym and do everything right. Don’t cut corners, give your all for the two hours that we are in here every night for practice. Every second you get in the game, you give everything. I can’t coach effort. Effort is all on you. And you will give me everything that you’ve got for 32 minutes,” said Hewitt.
Westwood opens the season tonight in West Iron County and will have a rematch of that district finals game this Friday against Ishpeming.