4 players apiece: Former high school players from area provide important presence for Bay College basketball
ESCANABA — The Bay College men’s and women’s basketball teams will each feature four area players on their rosters this season as the Norse begin their regular-season schedules on the road this weekend.
Three of those area players return for the men, who were 20-10 last year, and two return for the women, who were 21-8.
After playing several exhibition games during October, including hosting Northern Michigan University, both Norse teams begin their regular seasons at Grand Rapids Community College today and Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek on Saturday. Their home openers are Nov. 18 against Wisconsin-Green Bay, Marinette.
For a complete listing of the teams’ rosters, schedules and season previews, visit www.baynorse.com.
Norse men finished strong
In all, the Bay men feature five returning players and nine freshmen.
The area returnees are sophomores Cade Contreras of Munising, Dondre Yohe of Ishpeming and Luke Mattson of Negaunee, while the newcomer from the area is freshman Austin Forbes of Gwinn.
Contreras appeared in 27 games last season and shot 38.5% on 3-pointers. Mattson gained valuable experience, playing in 26 games and shooting 37.5%. Yohe averaged 7.8 minutes in 14 games, but showed a knack for rebounding as he pulled down 15 rebounds in his limited time.
Forbes is the third guard on the Bay roster who scored more than 1,000 points in high school as he averaged 17 points and seven assists per game as a senior for the Modeltowners.
Sophomore Ryan Robinette of Escanaba leads the returnees after averaging 25.4 minutes per game last season, scoring 12.1 points per game, shooting 33 percent on triples and accumulating 48 assists and 37 steals. Fellow sophomore Christian Alexander shot 63 percent from the field and averaged 7.9 ppg and 5.0 rebounds while blocking 25 shots.
Third-year head coach Matt Johnson, who boasts a 42-17 record in two years at Bay, is pleased with his team’s preparation.
“As a coach you are never ready enough for the first game, but I couldn’t be more proud of the work this group has put in,” he said in a news release from the college. “They stood nose-to-nose with NMU last week, and while it displayed plenty of room for improvement, we played hard, didn’t back down, and did some really good things. I’m excited to get the season underway and I know the guys are as well.”
The Wildcats posted a 68-37 victory, but only led 23-15 at halftime.
Last year, the Norse opened 0-2 before reeling off six straight wins. They also finished the regular season by winning five of their final six before falling to Dakota County Technical in the postseason, a team they split with during the regular season.
Women hit stride midseason
NMU was also featured for the Norse women in the exhibition season as Northern prevailed 74-46 after jumping out to a 28-5 lead.
“We are in a much better position this year than we were last year, mostly because of the two teams we played in the preseason,” second-year coach Rob Robinson said in a college news release. “I believe that helped the new players see how much faster and physical college basketball is. Last year it took a while to figure that out.”
After going 4-5 in November last season, the Norse went undefeated in December and only lost twice more the rest of the regular season before reaching the regional championship game before falling to United Tribes Technical 80-70.
From the area, two Munising sophomores figure to be important cogs this year. Kelsea Ackerman was a vital player off the bench a season ago, contributing 5.8 points per game and collecting 34 steals. Marissa Ackerman started six games a year ago, averaging 15.8 minutes a game and making 27 steals.
JuliAnn Wickman of North Dickinson played the most minutes of returnees at 18.2 minutes despite not starting a game. She shot 41 percent from the floor, averaging 6.6 ppg.
Adding depth from the area are expected to be two Gwinn graduates who are Bay freshmen. Trisha McGuire averaged 8.5 ppg, 3.9 rebounds and about 3 assists a game her senior year with the Modeltowners. Brooke Mannor was a four-sport athlete at Gwinn who averaged 10.2 ppg in basketball.
“This is my deepest team in my 25-year career,” Robinson said. “As long as we can stay healthy and play together, great things could happen this year.”
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is email@example.com.