EBEN - After winning a district title in 2012-13, the Superior Central boys' basketball team looks to fill the void left by the graduation of six seniors.
Last season, Superior Central fell three points short in a loss against North Central at the regionals. Head coach Herb Jenkins said the Cougars were disappointed because they felt they were of final-four quality.
"But that's why you play the games," Jenkins said. "We made some mistakes last year and North Central capitalized."
Of last season's seniors, three of them were starters who combined for more than 50 points a game. The Cougars return two starters, Nick and Cody Maki.
Jenkins said while the Makis were not necessarily primary scorers in the past, he expects that to change.
"They're good leaders, but they're going to have to be more selfish," Jenkins said. "They're going to have to take over as some of the leading scorers."
Superior Central boys
Dec. 9 - at Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 13 - Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 16 - Menominee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3 - at Stephenson, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 7 - Engadine, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9 - Bark River-Harris, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11 - North Central, 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 13 - at Ewen-TC, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 - at Mid Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 - at Carney-Nadeau, 8 p.m.,
Jan. 23 - Stephenson, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 - Rapid River, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 - at Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 - at Rapid River, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 - Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 - at Engadine, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13 - Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 - at Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 24 - Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 27 - at BR-Harris, 7:30 p.m.
Nick and Cody Maki have started for the Cougars since Jenkins started coaching at Superior Central three years ago. Jenkins said he expects big years out of the seniors.
"It's great just having those two guys there for a little stability," Jenkins said. "I also hold them accountable, and they understand that."
Aside from the varsity returners, the Cougars will pull some talent from last year's junior varsity squad, which Jenkins said was a very competitive team.
This year, Jenkins said practices are already very competitive as players battle to fill the holes left by last season's seniors.
"We have capable players who are able to do it," Jenkins said. "It'll be interesting to see how the whole thing unfolds because these kids really are, for the most part, pretty equal."
Jenkins said being a smaller school plays a positive role in chemistry, since most of the players know each other already. While they get along outside of practice, Jenkins said only time will help the Cougars' chemistry on the court.
After Superior Central's opener against Big Bay de Noc on Monday, the Cougars face two difficult teams prior to winter break - Negaunee on Friday and Menominee on Dec. 16. Jenkins said the team's schedule is packed with competition, but he asked for it that way.
"I want to see how we respond to playing bigger, stronger, fast schools and if we can keep our composure," Jenkins said. "It'll certainly tell us where we stand."
Jenkins said if the Cougars are unable to keep their composure, the opposing team will exploit their weaknesses. From there, Superior Central will have some time to adjust and strengthen those areas.
"I look for great improvement from now until the beginning of January," Jenkins said. "We'll be a competitive team, there's no doubt about it."
Delaney Lovett can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org