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Junior Jack O’Shea (32) will try to help lead Anchor Bay to a district win at L’Anse Creuse North. (Photo by DAVE ANGELL)

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Anchor Bay Tars get new life

District is chance to make up for setbacks

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It has not been a stellar basketball season for Anchor Bay, but that isn’t stopping Tars Coach Bob Jolet from being motivated for district play.

“Obviously our goal is to win the district championship,” said Jolet, whose team is 3-14. “We feel we have an equal chance if we continue to work as hard as we have this season.”

The Tars drew a bye in the first round and face the winner of the Port Huron-Port Huron Northern contest on March 6. Dakota and L’Anse Creuse North tangle in the other semifinal on the same night. The final is set for March 8.

The Tars split two games with both Port Huron Northern and Port Huron High in the regular season. Neither the Huskies (6-12) nor the Big Reds (7-11) are unreasonably strong to cause Jolet sleepless nights.

“As you know we split with both teams this year, in very close games,” he said. “If our defense continues to play as well as they have, we have a good chance of playing in that championship game Friday night.”

That would pit Anchor Bay against the winner of the Dakota-L’Anse Creuse North tilt, definitely tougher teams that the Port Huron outfits.

The Tars finish the season at New Haven on Thursday and against Madison on Friday. The Rockets, who made it to the Class C quarterfinals last season, should give Anchor Bay quite a test.

“As you know, they are a very good team,” Jolet said of New Haven. “The best way to prepare for a tournament is to play against teams of this caliber.”

Dakota has been frustrated in its two games against L’Anse Creuse North, but gets a shot to bring the Crusaders down on a much bigger stage.

The third time the rivals meet, one team’s season will end. The Crusaders have beaten Dakota twice this season by exact 69-60 scores.

L’Anse Creuse North Coach Jay Seletsky knows he can’t put another win over Dakota into his pocket before the game is played.

“Facing any team a third time is tough to do, especially when it is such a big rival that has a lot of firepower such as Dakota,” Seletsky said. “They obviously have a ton of motivation coming into our gym for state tournament play.

“This will be the third time playing LCN and we feel we played well against them for only one half in both games,” Dakota Coach Paul Tocco said. “We need to put together an entire game of consistent play to have a chance at victory.”

Seletsky believes his players won’t have a problem getting up for the game.

“Both times we played them they were highly competitive games and I expect nothing less for the final matchup on Wednesday,” he said. “Coach Tocco does a great job of preparing and it is going to be a war.”

The pressure would seem to be on the Crusaders and not just because they are going for the season sweep. LCN advanced to the state semifinals last season, raising expectations for another long run.

“I think there are a lot of people expecting big things from us on a daily basis,” Seletsky said. “We discuss the talk of outside pressure and verbalize that we can only control what we do by working hard to improve and get better daily. I think our guys have the proper mental makeup to realize we need to take each possession and each game at a time.”

Seletsky is happy overall with how the Crusaders are performing.

“We are playing well right now, sharing the ball and defending really well,” he said. “The key is to peak at the right time like we did last year and that is hard to do. But with our senior leaders, and our overall preparation, we are cautiously optimistic moving into post-season play.”

For the Crusaders, players such as Ramone Griffin, Tyler Conklin and Robert Hopkins are key. Someone who doesn’t get as much attention, but draws his coach’s praise is senior Aaron Schienke.

“He has really accepted his sixth-man role and improved in all categories, especially his aggressiveness on the glass,” Seletsky said. “He can really stretch the defense and has hit some big shots for us down the stretch. If he continues to do the little things, he could be the X-factor for us moving forward.”

Class C district

New Haven, which reached the state semifinals last season, competes at the district at Mount Clemens.

The Rockets square off against Warren Michigan Collegiate in the first round On March 4. A win there would put New Haven into the semifinals against Harper Woods two days later.

Mount Clemens drew a bye and will face the winner of the Harper Woods Heart Academy-University Liggett opener. The district final is set for March 8.

Contact Brian Marshall at (586) 716-1800, ext. 303 or at bmarshall@voicenews.com

Last Updated: 2/25/2013 11:17:48 AM EST