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July 3, 2014

Comet basketball ready to surprise

VELMA — Velma-Alma boys basketball lost three seniors who played pivotal roles from last year’s squad, but after a strong summer performance, coach Kenny Bare is having flashbacks.

Just last summer, the Comets had to rebuild. They lost nine players and many critics from across the state thought a third-straight state tournament berth was out of the question.

Senior scoring leaders Jaz Gayanich and Conner Sullivan combined to do just that with senior Alan Beck leading the way on defense.

This year junior Ryan Ross figures to be one of the main scoring threats as he combines with six-foot five-inch center Jake McGuire to provide a powerful one-two punch.

Throw in a couple of rising stars and a transfer, Devyn Davis, from Bray-Doyle and Bare thinks the Comets could repeat their success from last year and maybe go even further.

“There was a lot of question marks going into this summer and a lot of those questions were answered,” Bare said. “What’s neat about high school basketball is that you graduate a class and then it’s time for somebody else to step up. This team did the same thing that my team did last year up at Frontier, they just shocked a lot of people that though, ‘Surely they’ll be dropping off this year.’”

Ross and McGuire were starters on that team last year, but they weren’t scorers. As the main point guard, Ross, led the team in assists and McGuire used his strength to pull down rebounds. At a camp up in Frontier in June, they both proved they can score, and Bare said they’ll be featured in the offense this year.

For Ross it’s been quite a transition. He is not used to handling the spotlight in a scoring sense, but realizes that it’s his turn to produce points.

“My whole career I’ve always had two or three other players who were scorers, and that’s what I’ve built my game around, being able to get them the ball,” Ross said. “Now that I need to score a lot more I’ve definitely been putting a lot of shots up in the gym and getting a lot better of trying to be able to score off the dribble.”

For McGuire the key is keeping out of foul trouble. Too often last year, Bare was hadicapped with how many minutes he could use the big forward.

This year the Comets have found some sizable replacements, who can help alleviate the rebounding burden that often fell on McGuire’s shoulders. Senior Kelton Brown played some of those minutes last year, and he’ll likely take on a bigger role this winter. Davis adds some height and senior Ryan Enloe came on strong last year to close out the season.

“It’s nice to have some size and some depth on the inside, because that’s the guys that do most of the banging and can get in foul trouble,” Bare said. “If you can’t guard other people on the inside, you’re going to find yourself in trouble.”

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Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

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