A pair of local teams will be heading to Shepherd today to participate in a holiday basketball tournament.
Montabella and Carson City-Crystal will be busy today, as they are set to play in the Shepherd Holiday Tournament. The Eagles will take on Ithaca at noon, while the Mustangs will face the South Grand Rapids Homeschoolers at 2 p.m.
Both Montabella coach Gary Jankowsky and Carson City-Crystal coach Ryan Fritz like the idea of playing a game during the holiday Christmas break.
“Normally we like to have a game during the holiday,” Fritz said. “It gets you looking forward to a game instead of monotonous practices.”
“We kind of like the games in the holidays,” Jankowsky said. “I know we’re going to have a couple of kids missing, but it breaks up the holiday and gives the kids a break.”
This will be the third year the Eagles have been involved. The past two years they have faced Central Montcalm in the tournament.
“I think it’s good to showcase the kids, when they have family home for the holidays and they don’t always get to come to watch,” Fritz said.
CC-Crystal will face the Yellowjackets, who are a good team, Fritz noted.
“They’re very athletic,” he said of Ithaca. “They get out and run and they defend very well. They get out and create havoc defensively and do some things you don’t want to do. They also are a little bit up-tempo and that’s not what we like to do.”
Fritz hopes to see his team keep the Yellowjackets down on the scoreboard.
“We have to play better defense,” he said. “We have to work on finishing defense with rebounding. We also have to keep the game down in the fifties. We also have to get Brann (Schmitt) a lot of touches and not turn it over. We have to make sure we take care of the basketball.”
Fritz hopes to have a full squad at the game, something he didn’t have at the game against Portland St. Patrick.
“We had two starters missing against St. Patrick and we had another starter not play because he couldn’t practice because he was sick,” he said.
Jankowsky knows a little bit about the Cougars, who replaced Ovid-Elsie in the tournament when the Marauders backed out.
“They’ve got two good players and two good guards,” Jankowsky said. “They run a good man offense and they’re big kid, a 6-7 kid, is a good low-post player which we’re going to have to be aware of there because we don’t have much size. Their two guards can shoot the three-ball.”
Jankowsky had two things that he hopes will lead to a Mustang win.
“The biggest key is defensive rebounds and making our shots,” he said.
The Mustang girls will also play at the tournament, playing at 6 p.m.