A chip on their shoulders
By RYAN SPITZA
Journal Sports Writer
MARQUETTE — After a 20-game win streak ended in a disappointing loss to Traverse City Central in the semifinals of the Class A district tournament, Marquette boys basketball players return this season with a chip on their shoulders.
Marquette finished with an overall record of 20-2 last year. After losing its first game to Petoskey, the rest was history as the Redmen cruised through the remainder of the regular season and compiled a perfect 8-0 mark in the Great Northern Conference.
MSHS head coach Brad Nelson said despite the successful regular season, it was a bad way to end a season where the team may have overachieved.
“At the beginning of the year if people said we were going to go 19-1 (in the regular season), I don’t think anyone would have taken us on that,” he said. “We got lucky in a lot of games and I think we created our own luck and our own situations, which is a credit to the guys that I have.
“As far as the tournament, I definitely think we underachieved. I thought we could have made a decent run and unfortunately got ousted.
“We had a successful season but then we ended it with disappointment,” Nelson added. “It kind of left a sour taste in all of our mouths. That was a tough one to swallow, but I think my guys that were there that are coming back remember that and that’s kind of driving them.”
The Redmen return several players who were big contributors last season, including senior forward Trey McFerrin and junior guards Ethan Martysz, Bryce Brazeau and Raffy Millado. Also returning is sophomore guard Luke Ogea, who got plenty of playing time for the varsity last season.
The Redmen also have 10 newcomers this season up from junior varsity, including Marius Grazulis, the third Grazulis brother to come through the Marquette basketball program, and Brendan Kaski, who played quarterback for the football team.
Despite losing star players Ian Ogea, Garrett Finkbeiner and Alex DuVall to graduation and Jackson and Joe Ostrowsky to relocation, Nelson believes the depth of the current roster can carry the load.
“We’ve got really good shooters coming back,” he said. “I figured out we lost about 56 percent of our scoring so we have to replace that, but the good news is we’ve got 44 percent coming back plus the junior class that’s really talented. We’re optimistic, we’ll shoot a lot of 3s.”
Nelson said the goal this season isn’t about wins or losses, but rather being competitive within the area.
“Every year I look to be competitive in our conference, our district, in Marquette County,” he said. “Year to year that’s what we expect to do. Win-loss? About .500 obviously is something that we expect, but we’ve got to work at it and that starts today.”
The conference won’t be easy by any means, with a difficult GNC schedule ahead, according to the coach.
“We’ve been successful in our conference, but this year it’s going to be very competitive,” Nelson said. “Escanaba is big and talented.”
After discussing players that have moved on and players that are returning, Nelson said with confidence that he believes in this year’s roster to take the Redmen far.
“I’ve got 15 guys total, all of them which I have complete confidence in,” he said. “Making us better, they’re just a hard-working, great group of guys.”
Email Ryan Spitza at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All times Eastern
Dec. 8 — * vs. Petoskey, 7 p.m.
Dec. 9 — * vs. Trav. City West, noon
Dec. 12 — Gladstone, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 15 — ** to be determined
Dec. 16 — ** to be determined
Dec. 19 — at Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 22 — at Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4 — at Kingsford, 8 p.m.
Jan. 12 — at Menominee, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 16 — Ishpeming, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 25 — Kingsford, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 30 — at Westwood, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 2 — Menominee, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 6 — at Gladstone, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 8 — Escanaba, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 13 — at Ishpeming, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 15 — Negaunee, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 27 — Gwinn, 7:15 p.m.
March 1 — Houghton, 7:15 p.m.
* at Petoskey Invitational
** at Traverse City Central Invite