Last season inspires Flivvers
KINGSFORD — Kingsford has a head start on the rest of the UP boys basketball teams.
The Flivvers have been gearing up for this campaign after struggling in 2017 with 2-19 (overall) and 0-8 (Great Northern Conference) marks. They beat Westwood in the regular season and Houghton in the district.
“We have been thinking about this season ever since we lost to Menominee in the districts last March,” said Kingsford Coach Dan Olkkonen. “We had last year ingrained in us this entire off-season reminding us what those 19 loses felt like, and what we had to change to not feel that way again.
“I believe that with what most of this group did the last six months individually, and as a team, will give us the opportunity to compete hard and win games.”
The Flivvers return two All-GNC second-teamers and leading scorers in juniors Tyler Beauchamp and Luke Terrian.
“Last season we leaned on these guys a lot for scoring, which for sophomores was big task,” Olkkonen said. “They did a good job but more importantly gained valuable experience. We look for great things out of both of them.”
Another starter back in Chase Kreski. Other letter-winners are Brad VanRemortel, Liam Gayan and Matt Swanson.
“We are putting a lot of pressure on our veterans to lead this team,” said Olkkonen, noting that seniors Chase Kreski and Liam Gayan have the most game experience. “Brad VanRemortel, Matt Swanson and newcomer Ethan LaVarnway have been showing good signs of leadership.”
Olkkonen said juniors Nate Rutter, Andrew Mann, Gavin Londo and Cole Galeazzi are “working hard for us.”
The Flivvers travel to Houghton tonight for the season opener. They face Escanaba in the GNC and home opener Friday.
“We play in a tough conference,” said Olkkonen, assisted by Jim Myllyla (junior varsity) and Matt LaLonde (freshman). “Marquette, Gladstone and Escanaba will all be very good teams this season and we know how hard we will have to prepare and battle to win those games. Ishpeming and Iron Mountain are just two tough non-conference teams that we will face.
“With the toughness of our schedule, and the memory of last season, we keep reminding the boys how hard they have to work every minute they are together. We are excited to start and look for a great first game at Houghton.”
Team manager is Owen Olkkonen.
Roster (* indicates letter-winner):
Seniors — Chase Kreski, 6-3 (*); Matt Swanson, 6-4 (*); Liam Gayan, 6-5 (*); Brad VanRemortel, 6-0(*); Ethan Lavarnway, 4-9
Juniors — Luke Terrian, 6-2 (*); Tyler Beauchamp, 6-1(*); Cole Galeazzi, 6-3; Andrew Mann, 6-1; Gavin Londo, 5-8; Nate Rutter, 5-9.