The Flint Metro League has always been a bit of a wasteland for subpar class A schools. If you can’t hack it in a regular conference, then move to the Metro like Swartz Creek, Clio and Kearsley [and for heaven’s sake don’t let competitive teams like Grand Blanc and Davison follow].
What develops is some of the worst basketball you can imagine. Point guards that look down when they dribble, undersized posts, and disastrous open court situations. I’ve often been to Metro games, asking myself could this really be A basketball? This is the way it has always seemed: subtract any team’s best player, and you may as well be watching a team from the GAC or class D.
This season, that mold is broken. [Actually, Holly broke it last year with their playoff run over the likes of Grand Blanc]
Teams, that aren’t Holly, are capable of being competitive too. Fenton has managed to keep its area players out of Powers Catholic and even got one back. Holly got a huge injection by way of Stockbridge and Lakeland.
And if it’s not players that upgrade a team, it’s coaching. Jeremy Trent returns to his old stomping grounds at Swartz Creek after a rather miraculous stint at Bentley that saw the Bulldogs beating Flint Hamady – something they will never do again. Trent is just one of several, relatively, new coaches with high aspirations.
Does the Metro have the City and the Big Nine in its sights? Let’s not get carried away, but Holly can play with anyone this year and I suspect that several others will slowly follow suit.
Here’s a breakdown of the Flint Metro for this season.
Two huge transfers to an already good looking team puts Coach Lance Baylis’ group as the clear favorite. They will easily field the best starting five of any team in the Metro and depth shouldn’t be as big of a question mark as it has been in the past.
This isn’t a team loaded with stars, but like Holly, except to a lesser extent, is balanced. Tyler Hamilton, the sophomore Hickoff twins and junior Eric Mowery can all chip in double figure performances. The Hickoffs and Mowery all looked pretty good over the summer playing travel ball amongst the state’s best. And keep an eye on 6’7” junior Charlie Herzog, a Powers transfer that could make some noise. Fenton is a program on the rise, but don’t expect the same conference tug of war with Holly that we saw last year.
3. Flint Kearsley
This is the toughest most physical team in the Metro and maybe the most athletic too. Lots of nice players, but no real world-beaters. Ryan Williams can be a star when he’s on. Meanwhile Jake Robinson is a versatile forward, Capus Robinson is experienced and junior Jake Vahlbusch may have the best overall post game of anyone on this team. I like Coach Adas boys to make some noise this year and well into the next two.
4. Swartz Creek
New Coach Jeremy Trent has his work cut out for him at Creek. He starts with the conference’s best point guard in Cody Campbell, but after that, there is a drop off in talent. Ethan Bouwer has been a four varsity player, and starter, but he’s nowhere close to where he should be. He’s big and talented so if Trent can motivate him, then he could also have potentially the conference’s best post. Coach Trent turned Bentley into a winner so it he could succeed there, then I’m sure he can at Creek.
The only real loss for Clio was point guard James Hodge, and I really think that Zachary Borowski will be more than up to the task. He’s a tough little guard that looks exceptional when he’s confident. Coleby Smart is another talented youngster that can help elevate this team from the forward spot. I also like the demeanor of Ryan Skornicka – he should be poised for a big season. But of course this team has the greatest luxury of any team in the Metro with 6’10” Lucas Sorenson. Think of a poor man’s LaMarcus Lowe, and that’s Sorenson. He could be the conference’s biggest game changer.
6. Ortonville – Brandon
The Blackhawks lost their top two players from a year ago so there could be a feeling out period to start. Tait McNally provides experience at the point, while Nick Kwasiborski and Daniel Grost will be of value on the perimeter. Forward Derek Brady looks special in spots and it’s time for junior Luke Cinader to live up to his early potential.
It seems like Michael Bertling has been playing forever. This is his final season and the talented wing has some good size to work with. Seniors Gary Wurtz and Tommy Nieman give him size and guys that can pull down double-doubles. It could be a solid year for Oxford.
8. Lapeer East
Their perimeter is cleaned out from graduation, but they were already at the bottom of the barrel at that spot. The freshman Turczyn could give this roster some much needed quality in the backcourt. Payton McCallum returns inside and junior Jeff Wells is somewhere between Steve Wilmers and Dan Elliott. It’s probably going to be a long year.
9. Lapeer West
They return their top two players in shooter Anthony Sisson and the speedy Landon Warren. Brian McGeary will run the team from the point. Joe Lerma is an athletic forward inside and Josh Francis at 6’4” provides good size. A lot hinges on the return of Nate Smith, an accomplished football player that missed all of last season with an injury, but has been on the varsity since he was a freshman.
Cody Marks will be relied upon possibly more on the hardwood than he was on the turf. A few other returning seniors bring some skill in Joey Knatow, Dyland Ryan and Colin Jokisch, but it’s still going to be a rough season.
2009/2010 All Conference Team
Lucas Sorenson 6’10” Senior Clio
Davenport recruit that could put up silly numbers this year.
Lance Hopkin 6’4” Senior Holly
Put up silly numbers last year.
Josh Fugate 6’2” Junior Holly
Lakeland transfer that brings toughness to the Metro.
Thomas Lovachis 6’1” Senior Holly
In his first season in the Metro he is arguably its best player.
Cody Campbell 5’10” Senior Swartz Creek
Hard-nosed guard with loads of skill.
Justin Fowler 5’10” Senior Holly
Talented guard that didn’t play a ton last year.
Tyler Hamilton 6’3” Senior Fenton
Tough guy that should lead another solid Fenton team.
Cody Marks 5’10” Senior Linden
Incredible football player, but also a very good basketball player.
Payton McCallum 6’3” Senior Lapeer East
Bruiser inside that is tough to stop.
Capus Robinson 6’4” Senior Flint Kearsley
Metro journeyman that has always been solid.
Jeff Wells 6’1” Junior Lapeer East
Tough scrapper with loads of potential.
Ryan Williams 6’0” Senior Flint Kearsley
Off and on guard that can be the conference’s best when he’s feeling good.
Things to watch for:
- Improved basketball all the way around.
- A one horse race for Holly. Expect a few more sell-outs, Coach.
- Payton McCallum to foul out of every game. That guy can’t make contact without an opponent hitting the deck afterwards.
- Cody Marks to wish it was still football season.
- Charlie Herzog to actually see the floor at Fenton.
- Dylan and Ryan Hickoff to continue to be ranked side-by-side. See Jared and Aaron List of Frankenmuth a few years back for support.
- Lucas Sorenson to get bigger offers than NAIA Davenport throughout the season.