First-year varsity basketball coach Marcus Voelz is new to the head coaches’ chair, but he is certainly not new to the players nor to the program.
Voelz played basketball at Riverview before graduating in 2004 and he had three brothers play and graduate from Riverview after him. In addition, he has been the Pirates varsity assistant coach for the past five season.
So, technically, Voelz is a “new” coach, but he is a new coach who comes in with a vast wealth of knowledge about his team and the history of his program.
All that having been said, if you watched the Pirates at all last season, you likely won’t recognize them this year.
“Last year we walked the ball down and set up a lot of things,” Voelz said. “This year, we’ve completely changed things. This team is a lot deeper than last year. The kids are exceptionally fast and we have a lot of guys who can really get up and down the court.”
The team graduated 10 seniors from last year, but with several returning starters back, including veteran point guard Sean Hand, Voelz said he is not worried about his team lacking experience.
And with Hand, one of the top cross country runners in the Huron League, handing the ball, the Bucs are ready to run opponents ragged.
“We hope to run up and down the court and by the fourth quarter, have the other team worn out,” said Voelz.
Joining Hand in the starting lineup likely will be senior brothers Jordan and Jake Wetherell, senior Sean Evoe and junior Austin Poe. Poe was the “go-to” guy on the junior varsity team last year before being call up to the varsity in the second half of the season.
While those guys may start, the rest of the squad is sure to see plenty of playing time.
Sophomore Jagger Kilburg (6-foot- 4), senior Allen Moody (6-foot-3) and junior Dominik LaChappelle (6-foot- 2) will provide the team with some presence in the paint, while MRE Neal, Jimari Moultrie, Paul Laurain and Kenny Hightower provide the depth a speed team needs.
The Bucs played close with nearly everyone last season and in the end wound up dead even with a 10- 10 record and a third-place Huron League finish. But they we so close to being much better. Most of the team’s losses were by 10 points or less and they lost two right at the final buzzer.
This year, Voelz wants to turn a lot of those losses into wins, but it won’t be easy as the league will again present challenges.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central won the league title last year and is expected to be a strong contender again. But along with the Falcons are teams like Flat Rock and Huron.
“Flat Rock is going to be tough. They have some talented guys,” said Voelz. “And Huron, they’re always scrappy and tough to beat.”
And that’s to say nothing of always-tough Milan and archrival Grosse Ile.
The Bucs opened the season with non-league games against Dearborn Heights Annapolis, Southgate, Lincoln Park and Trenton. They will face Summit Academy before beginning the Huron League season with games against Flat Rock Dec. 14 and Huron Dec. 18.