Ishpeming boys basketball team set to break loose in coach Anthony Katona’s 2nd year
All times Eastern
Dec. 5 — at Gladstone, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 8 — Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 13 — at Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 2 — Kingsford, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5 — Manistique, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 — at Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 — at Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 — at Marquette, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 18 — Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 23 — Gladstone, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 — Houghton, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 2 — at Iron Mountain, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 5 — at L’Anse, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 9 — Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13 — Marquette, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 16 — at Manistique, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 – Iron Mountain, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 – at Kingsford, 8 p.m.
Feb. 27 — W. Iron County, 7:30 p.m.
March 1 – at Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
ISHPEMING — Like other teams in the Upper Peninsula last season, the Ishpeming boys basketball team had a new coach at the helm.
Anthony Katona thought that his first campaign went fairly well.
“Last year we were a really young team,” he said. “I thought we did the right things to get better as the season went on. We had a couple of sophomores and the majority were juniors last year, with just a few seniors.
“Overall, I thought it went well just because I wanted to keep growing and competing as a team as the season went.
“The last game of the season wasn’t the greatest end, but I think we did really well by getting to the district finals. I was pretty happy with the team.”
This year’s team has guys with experience under their belts, led by Hart Holmgren. The senior will suit up for Northern Michigan University next fall and Katona had a lot of praise for his star post player.
“He’s a hard worker,” Katona said. “He and a bunch of other guys worked really hard this summer on their games and to get the team back to a winning record.
“He’s got a great head on his shoulders and he’s a really good student as well as an athlete. So we’re expecting big things out of the season for Hart.”
Holmgren may grab the attention of opponents, but he has a good supporting cast in Dondre Yohe and Darius Yohe, among others.
“Dondre, who had some all-conference honors last year, is back,” Katona said. “He’s been putting some time in at the gym and he’s another kid that you love having on the team.
“He’s got great spirit, he’s a great teammate and he has really good basketball IQ, so he’s definitely going to be a key component. We also have a couple others, like his brother Darius. He’s a junior and he’s going to turn some heads this year.
“We have a really good starting group and a good working team. We’re not really deep and we only have eight guys on the roster. We have a couple of players who were injured from the football season.
“Everyone on the team is a really hard worker. Our biggest thing is to be smart on the court and doing the right things so we don’t get into trouble situations.”
Katona also said that the Hematites are working on improving their defense and how to stay out of foul trouble, which could make things difficult for the Hematites’ initial lack of numbers.
“We’re really working on getting our defense down,” he said. “Just having eight guys on the team until we get healthy, we have to make sure that we keep our guys on the floor and we don’t get into foul trouble.
“We have to know our defensive situations and know where we’re supposed to be at and not have any stupid fouls going on. We just have to run the game a little better with the defensive end and I think the rest will come.”
Overall, though, Katona likes what he sees and thinks that if the Hematites continue to make progress, this could be a good season.
“With the first week almost done here with practice, we’re learning a lot each day and we’re improving with each practice,” he said. “Kids are asking questions at the right time and we’re continuing to work hard at getting better. If we keep going in the right direction like we are now, I think we can really prove that we deserve to be at the top of the conference.”
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.