With the Muskie junior boys’ basketball team, head coach Greg Ste. Croix seems to take the attitude “give all you’ve got—and then a little more.”
“At the junior level, we’re basically a developmental program, so we’re looking at developing all players in all areas,” said Ste. Croix.
“We aren’t really satisfied with where we’re at right now,” he added. “We’re trying to get better each and every game, and practice and tournament.”
That could mean some very bad things for the rest of NorWOSSA as the defending-champion Muskies already have won six of the seven games they’ve played so far this season, including a 68-27 rout of the Dryden Eagles there last Monday (Dec. 14) and then a 30-18 victory over the Kenora Broncos here the next day.
In the Muskies’ first major test of the season, they were humbled 70-18 by International Falls on Friday night.
But the Muskies captured their home tournament with a perfect 4-0 record, with an average margin of victory of more than 12 points.
With a mere two-year turnaround from rookies developing to veterans, keeping the talent pool full from year to year is a major focus for Ste. Croix, who has a balance of current and future players.
“[This year] we’ve got a really good balance between veteran players and new players,” noted Ste. Croix, whose team boasts five Grade 10 players and nine from Grade 9.
“We take the ball to the basket, we’ve got as much skill as anybody in our top five guys, and our bench is coming along tremendously,” he added.
Ste. Croix listed returning players Brandon Sinclair and Jacob Hawley as Grade 10 players who he expects will step up this year.
“Brandon’s a point guard who takes control of bringing the ball up,” he remarked.
“Jacob Hawley is a centre/forward, and he’s really good at rebounding the ball and just settling things down out there.”
Along with Brandon McGinnis and Gavin Moorhouse, Sinclair and Hawley are expected to show younger players what it takes to win at the junior level.
“They’re leading by example, they work extremely hard,” lauded Ste. Croix. “They’re what Grade 10 players should be.
“We try to develop a game plan and they’re doing a really good job implementing that game plan now,” he added.
“Their ability to lead by example is very, very important.”
As for the rookies, Ste. Croix cited Will Anderson as one Grade 9 who will be counted on to lead the offensive charge.
“He can do a lot of things with the ball. He can take the ball to the basket, he can shoot, he’s a great passer,” Ste. Croix said of the only Grade 9 player in his starting five.
“He’s got a tremendous skill set.”