With six returnees, Clare expects to defend district title

Tyler Smith corrals a rebound during a game last season.  Photo by Shannon Zinser

Tyler Smith corrals a rebound during a game last season.
Photo by Shannon Zinser

By Ben Murphy
Sports Writer
The Clare boys basketball team pushed all the right buttons down the stretch last season.

The Pioneers played well enough to claim a district title in a thrilling championship game over Tawas Area, and they hope to regain that crown again this year.
“My early thoughts are, we are coming along at this point and I like how hard this team works and competes every day in practice,” second year head coach Matt Alexander said of his team that went 14-9 overall and 10-4 in the Jack Pine Conference. “We have a great group of seniors to lead us this season. Keys for us to have a good season are to stay healthy, have great chemistry and continue to improve every day.”

Returning to the team are seniors Tyler Smith (center, 14 points per game, nine rebounds), Tyler Rodenbo (guard, five points per game, 3.6 assists), Tanner Punches (guard), Jeff Allen (center) along with juniors Kaden Kelly (forward, 6.4 points per game, 5.5 rebounds) and  Brenden Sersaw (guard, 9.1 points per game, 2.1 assists, two steals).

Joining the team will be juniors Nic Roe (guard), Justin Bidwell (guard), Aidan Boyd (guard), Jake Hawley (forward) and Nate Zinser (forward).

Meridian was the top team in the Jack Pine Conference last year, with a 13-1 record and Beaverton was second with a 12-2 mark. Clare finished third. Alexander expects another tight race this year.

“Meridian is obviously a team that will be at the top, we will have to go into every game this year ready to compete,” Alexander said. “If we do that, we will put ourselves in a position to compete for the JPC title.”

Clare hosts Beal City on Tuesday for its season opener and heads to Meridian on Thursday.

“Our team goals are a JPC title, district title and making a run at moving on from there,” Alexander said. “This is a team with a lot of potential, but potential does not win games. We have to continue to compete every day, making ourselves and each other better. If we do this we can have some success this season.”

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