After the first few weeks of basketball games for the Howell Varsity Highlanders basketball team it still isn’t clear what direction the season is headed. With COVID-19 delaying the start of the season for weeks, it was certain whether the team would play well out of the gate, take some time to get in rhythm, or have a season at all. To some, this might be seen as an obstacle, but the Highlanders are viewing it as a building block to get where they want to go.
“I think quarantine has brought us together. I don’t think it’s about coming together now that quarantine is done, because that’s what brought us together in the first place… I’m really confident [in our team] because we’ve done everything right since March,” Howell coach Mr. Nick Simon said.
Coming out for the first game against Hartland at home, nerves were high and everyone was ready. The Howell Highlanders did in fact come out strong but not as strong as they hoped, as after four quarters of battling it out, the Highlanders lost 56-38. Junior Carter Bandemer led the way with 12 points in the loss. It was a tough loss, but Howell looks forward to February 27 for their rematch.
“[The offense] started to flow better… we let up way too many shots and let one of the best players in the county to be open too many times, and that just can’t happen,” Bandemer said postgame.
Going into the weekend after the loss, the Highlanders did not disappoint. The Highlanders got their first win as a team in almost a year when they faced Novi and won 41-39, before beating the same team 52-38 the next day. At this point Howell was beginning to look like themselves.
“I think we’re past the early jitters… [We’re] just figuring out playing with each other; this is the first time that this exact group has ever played together in a game, so figuring out roles offensively was probably the biggest issue. [We need to focus on] not turning the ball over offensively, and then rebounding well defensively. We did a really good job rebounding against Novi and we got a huge victory with that,” coach Simon said.
Howell had a tough couple of games in their next two against Northville and Brighton, dropping both. Their rivalry game against Canton was a huge opportunity to swing the momentum of their season, and they delivered. Canton had just eight points at one point in the second half, before coming back to lose just 56-48.
“This group is going to grow a lot. This is probably going to be the group that grows the most [as a team] from the beginning to the end that we’ve had in four or five years, so I’m really excited to see that growth,” coach Simon said.
Basketball is back and so is the Howell competitive spirit. With COVID-19 affecting this year’s number of spectators, Howell unfortunately cannot bring the intimidating crowd it usually does. Still, Howell basketball looks to prove itself once again now that they can get back onto the court and hopefully continue to fill up the win column.