Taking lumps last season can pay off now for Westwood boys

ISHPEMING — After a 6-15 record last season and a run in the Class C district tournament, head coach Chad Hewitt is hoping to bring the Westwood boys basketball team even further this season.

While the roster hasn’t been finalized yet, Hewitt said the first days of tryouts have gone smoothly.

“I’m just happy with the kids’ effort and performance,” he said. “There’s still a lot of bad habits we have to break, but we’re going to play hard for 32 minutes and we’re going to defend for 32 minutes and that’s a mindset I know that they already have. It’s just about doing some tweaking and we’ll be all right.”

Despite its modest record, Westwood picked up a tournament win over West Iron County in March during the Class C districts before falling to Iron Mountain in the finals.

Hewitt said he’s excited to get the season going.

“I’m really excited the season is here,” he said. “We have a good core and we’re getting some of our team back from last year that were sophomores and juniors that this year will be able to make us competitive.”

One of those players is senior point guard-shooting guard Nathan Beckman.

“We’re looking for him to do some good things and just pick up where he left off last year,” Hewitt said.

Other top returners for the Patriots include senior forward Blake Hewitt, who was sidelined for half of last season with a shoulder injury, senior center David Delarye, senior Ethan Burke and junior forward Jacob Adriano.

Hewitt hopes that core of returnees, all of whom were football stars, helps the team with leadership and experience and translating those intangibles into wins.

“There were multiple games that we were up late in the game and lost because we didn’t know how to win,” he said. “We were a young team and an inexperienced team at the varsity level, and having that year last year under our belt is going to help us improve and learn how to finish a game.

“We weren’t blown out by many opponents (last) year and there were some really good teams on our schedule. We fought and competed in every game and that’s all I can ask for as a coach.

“But to be able to finish games and win is something that hopefully translates from football to basketball and having that last year under our belt.”

Asked about the biggest threat in the Mid-Peninsula Conference, Hewitt couldn’t name just one.

“There are several good teams in the Mid-Pen this year,” he said. “Iron Mountain is going to be a good team, Gladstone, Negaunee, Ishpeming …”

Hewitt said in order to make a run in the M-PC, it will take belief and determination from his players to do so.

“I really think that we have the makeup and the team and the pieces of the puzzle to do it, we’ve just got to get them (the players) to buy in and believe that we can,” he said.

Hewitt said the ultimate goal is simple.

“Just to compete and play to the best of our abilities,” he said. “I’ve seen these kids play and I know what they can do.

“I just want to see them come out and compete and play to their level every night.”

Westwood kicks off the season on Dec. 4 at home against West Iron County.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.