Trojans hope experience helps turn corner

Fruitport’s basketball team huddles up before practicing on Tuesday. 

This week marks the beginning of the boys basketball season. We will head to Spring Lake and Western Michigan Christian later this week to cover the first week of boys basketball practices.

FRUITPORT — Last season, the Fruitport boys basketball team broke a long standing playoff drought with a 57-46 victory over Whitehall in the opening round of districts. Prior to that victory, the Trojans hadn’t won a playoff game since 2005.

With eight of their players returning, Fruitport is looking to take a step forward. Although they won a playoff game, the Trojans were winless in the O-K Black en route to a 4-17 record. Despite that, the Trojans are hoping that cohesion and an experienced roster can help them build on the momentum they gained at the end of last season.

Here are three questions we asked Fruitport coach Steve Erny before the season:

Who will your impact players be?

Erny: “We have seven seniors coming back: Marcelo Conklin, Ethan Flores, Rico Jones, Luke Mitchell, Logan Manciu, Adam Eitniear and Flynn Stonecyhper. Gavin Fisher is a junior who was on a varsity last season, who we have coming back. We have a lot of athleticism in that group.”

“Flores is an all-state track star and a phenomenal football player, he just brings a higher level of athleticism to our team. Conklin has been on varsity since he was a freshman, he’s our leader and our point guard. He sets the tone for us in every way. Mitchell is another returning guard who was one of our leading scorers last year. He was also our leading rebounder last year. Gavin Fisher has put in perhaps as much time as anybody in the offseason. He’s a basketball junkie and a gym rat.”

What skills or values are you instilling in your team during this first week of practice?

Erny: “There’s two things that we are going to really focus on this year. I met with the seven returning seniors and a common theme that was discussed was we want to have a thriving competitive atmosphere everyday we are in the gym. We are trying to take that idea to the next level. Our phrase for that this year is: as iron sharpens iron, we want to sharpen each other. The other thing for us, is we try to approach each day, game and practice with three goals in mind. Play hard, play smart, play together. We want to focus on those things more than winning and playing for ourselves.”

What is the biggest question facing your team this season?

Erny: “How are all of our returning players going to mesh with what we have with our new players as roles get established on the team. My biggest focus is on the chemistry of that and making sure we are blending together as a team earlier on than we did last year. Last year, we had a good end to the year and I thought our chemistry was improving so my biggest question is whether or not we can build on what we did there.”

The Trojans tip off for the first time on the road when they take on Montague Dec.10. Fruitport hosts Spring Lake Dec. 13 and Muskegon Catholic Central Dec. 17 to close out the 2019 portion of their schedule.

Contact D’Angelo Starks by email at dstarks@grandhaventribune.com or on Twitter @DAngelo_Starks.

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