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New head coach Cody Carlson brings out positive feelings for Republic-Michigamme boys basketball team

This is the 2019-20 Republic-Michigamme Hawks boys varsity basketball team. In the front row from left are Gabe Dupont, head coach Cody Carlson and Logan Hanninen. Top row from left, Isaac Lawrence, Kaleb Conklin, Eli Luokkala, Kolin Conklin, Derek Koski and Jay Fetters. (Photo courtesy Cody Carlson)

Republic-Michigamme boys

2019-20 schedule

All times Eastern

Home games in bold

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Dec. 9 — Wakefield-Marenisco, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 12 — at Ontonagon, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 16 — L’Anse, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 19 — at Mid Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6 — at Lake Linden-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 13 — Jeffers, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 16 — at Chassell, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 20 — at Superior Central, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 21 – at Ewen-Trout Creek, TBA

Jan. 23 — at Watersmeet, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 27 — at Bessemer, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 31 — Baraga, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 4 — at Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 7 — Chassell, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 11 — Lake Linden-Hubbell, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 14 — at Baraga, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 21 — at Dollar Bay, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 25 — North Dickinson, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 28 — Mid Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.

March 3 — Dollar Bay, 7:30 p.m.

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REPUBLIC — Cody Carlson wanted to bring Republic-Michigamme boys basketball back to its glory days, and now he has a chance to do after taking over the varsity head coaching reins this season.

A Republic native, Carlson previously served as the JV coach the last three years. Remembering those past days helped motivate him for the varsity job.

“The reason I took this job is we’ve been kind of a program that’s been in a funk for I’d say the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “Maybe a good team here or there, but just kind of in a funk.

“I kind of wanted to take a part in bringing the program back to what it used to be. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, the Republic basketball program, especially the boys, was a powerhouse in the U.P. I’d like to see that back someday.

“So the job appealed to me. We’ve had some great athletes in our school, some kids I coached in JV. So I’ve known them for a few years now. It just appealed to me. I had a dream and a vision to help the town regain its favorite thing, which is the basketball team. So it brings everybody in Republic together.”

Carlson thinks he has a good core of players to start the process of getting the Hawks back to where they used to be, each fulfilling a role.

“My key players start with Eli Luokkala,” he said. “He’s a junior and he’s moved along in his game quite a bit. Last year he struggled with his outside shot and this summer he played AAU for the Great Northern program out in Escanaba. I think that did him a lot of good.

“He’s come in this season looking sharp. He’s one kid that puts in time. He’s in the gym 95 percent of his day, it seems. Before school, after school. He’s in there during the summer four or five hours a day. He’s really putting his time in and he’s showing to me through what he’s done over the summer.

“The other guy is Logan Hanninen, he’s one of my guards. This summer he went to a basketball camp, a well-known guard camp, and I think he learned quite a bit from that. His game has improved quite a bit from last year. He’s quite a bit better at ball handling. His jump shot has gotten a lot better.

“Then I have Kaleb Conklin and he’s one of the sophomores. I’ve had him the last two years. He’s one of the players I’ve been blessed to have since I’ve been a coach at Republic. He’s come along quite a bit. A lot of them have grown quite a bit from what they were last year. He’s lanky and he’s got a great shot.

“Then next I have Kolin Conklin, who is one of my seniors. He’s big on the glass and great at grabbing rebounds. He’s done well for us defensively and then (there’s) Gabe Dupont.

“He’s a kid who hustles all the time. He’s a great free-throw shooter and he’ll probably be one of our better defenders. His basketball IQ is high for his age. He picked up basketball a little bit late, l think in middle school he started playing.

“Then I’ve got a couple kids off the bench like Derek Koski…. He’s young and going to give us some minutes. Jarred Boshears is a senior who is a defensive specialist. Then we have Isaac Lawrence and Jay Fetters, who are going to fill the same role as Jared. That’s basically everyone on our team. We have about nine players.”

Now that he knows his lineup and where everybody is going to be, Carlson is excited for the season to start.

“I’m 22 (years old) so I’m relatively young still as a coach. It’s been a blessing, honestly. I’m from Republic, I love the town and I love the people. It’s quite an honor to be in charge of the boys basketball program.

“To be honest, I have to pinch myself sometimes because I don’t believe it. It’s truly a great honor and I’m excited. The boys are excited. The morale is high right now with people in the town and people on the team.

“Everybody is excited, so I can’t wait to get started.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.