BAD AXE — Brent Wehner has traded in his referee whistle for a coaching whistle.
The former basketball official has taken over the Bad Axe girls program from Bob Breault. Wehner does have some varsity coaching experience, leading a very successful Ubly girls program for a six-season stint a few years ago.
Wehner takes over a squad which finished 6-14 overall, (1-11 Greater Thumb West) last season.
“We are going to work hard, we have good team chemistry and we have some size,” Wehner said. “But we lost most of our offense to graduation, and we lack experience at the varsity level. That means we need to find leadership.”
A pair of three-year varsity players — seniors Tori Orban and Shelby Fligger — lead the list of returnees. Also back are junior guard Alyssa Kociba and sophomore post player Rachel Breault.
“Tori and Shelby are three-year players who are going to have to be our leaders,” Wehner said. “Alyssa is going to need to score for us while we’re expecting a lot out of Rachel this year.”
Wehner feels his team will get better as the season goes on.
“We need to build on each game and concentrate on getting better,” he said. “We are not going to have an overly explosive offense, so defense is going to be a key for us.”
Anticipation is running high for the Bad Axe boys basketball squad.
And for good reason.
Coach Jim Quinn and his Hatchets feel this is the season they turn the corner and contend in the Greater Thumb West.
“I am excited about our season this year, but more importantly I think the team is excited, too,” Quinn said.
The Hatchets endured a 6-15 overall (3-9 GTW) campaign in 2010-11, losing several close games in the waning moments
“We had seven games last year where we were within three points with less than three minutes remaining in the game and we lost,” Quinn explained. “We need to turn those games into wins.”
Topping the list of returning players are seniors Jesse Quinn and Jeremy Pawlowski.
Quinn averaged 10. 6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season from the point guard spot. He also shot over 75 percent from the foul line while earning second-team all-league and first-team All-Huron Daily Tribune honors.
Pawlowski, a 6-foot-1 wing, averaged 10.9 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting around 70 percent from the stripe.
Others who should make significant contributions include 6-5 junior Will Sutton, 6-2 senior Jordan Dorsch, 6-1 junior Blake Talaski, 5-11 senior Spencer Kelly and 6-2 senior Brandon Dean
“Will has come a long way with getting some varsity experience last year,” Quinn said. “He should be a presence down low with Dorsch, Talaski, Dean and Kelly.”
On the outside, 6-1 senior Adam Rifenbark leads a foursome which includes juniors James Knarian, Matt Cramer and Ben Braden.
“We need to win some games early and gain some confidence to make a late-season push,”Quinn said. “I expect to compete for the league championship with a good balanced roster with everyone pitching in.
“I think everyone in the GTW will be competitive.”