The 2013-14 boys basketball season begins tonight for Three Rivers, which hits the road to take on Sturgis. Under 12th-year head coach Frelen Gowen, the Wildcats look to improve upon a 6-16 overall record and 5-12 finish in the Wolverine Conference (fourth in the West Division).
Returning letterwinners are seniors Kendall James (guard), Alex Cottingham (forward), Trenton Karle (forward) and Connor Smith (center). Cottingham (6-foot-0) led the team in scoring last year with around 300 points and Karle (6-2) averaged around four points per game.
“Alex will be strong on the boards and will provide leadership by his work ethic,” Gowen said. “He will be looked on for floor experience and a steadying influence. Kendall will be counted on to use his quickness on defense and provide some help on offense. Trenton will be some our only height and will be counted on to help on the boards as well as scoring. Connor will be our only true post player and size inside.”
Juniors Zak Zagon (guard), Elijah Hamilton (forward), Zach Turner (forward) and Johnel Stewart (guard) all logged a lot of time on junior varsity last year, as did sophomores Cam Cottingham (guard) and Adam Reed (guard). Senior Kyle Walczak (forward) rounds out the group.
“They are all expected to contribute on both ends of the floor,” Gowen said. “They all bring different skill sets, which should help us as a team. The sophomores have the ability to contribute right away. The faster we can learn and mesh as a unit, the faster we will put ourselves in a position [to win].”
Gowen said his goals for the season are to improve daily, play hard and compete in every game and play their best basketball when postseason play rolls around. Team chemistry, vital to any program’s success, he says, is already in place.
“So far it has been refreshing watching the players working hard to improve their skills and help their teammates,” Gowen said of a team that’s still figuring out its offensive identity. “I am excited about how they support each other.”