Winter sports season preview

James Edwards, Staff Writer

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imagesBy Staff Writer: James Edwards

There are many Howell sports teams that are looking for this winter to be a good one, seeing as only one program won districts last year, that being the boys bowling team. And that’s the program that we will preview first.

Bowling: Boys and Girls

The reigning KLAA West boys bowling team was a very seasoned squad last year with a lot of senior leadership, and they took home the title for our division. However, the second-year head coach Dave LaFollette will be tested this season, because last season’s team lost four bowlers to graduation. With only three returners, LaFollette only wants to add three new bowlers. “The key is getting them up to speed with bowling at that level, and finding the right mix to create a great team spirit.” For the girls’ squad, they are still in a rebuilding phase, dating back to the beginning of the season. Despite their identity, the team still strung together some surprising victories, a trend that LaFollette hopes to continue with the new season. A new season comes with the problem of graduating seniors, but coach LaFollette isn’t worried, knowing that his JV boys and girls will develop to eventually fill in those spots in later years. “My expectation is that we will be competitive with all schools on all levels,” says LaFollette.

Hockey

This year’s team will be a tough team to beat, with some players who usually play junior hockey, coming back to play at the high school level. This is expected to be a deep team with a strong senior presence. The name of the game this year for hockey will be defense, with a solid defensive group and great goaltending, but there will also be some offense with plenty of goal scorers.

“Our team is extremely committed to growing each day and competing for a state championship while maintaining a high team GPA,” says head coach Mike Mantua, focusing on the academic side of hockey as well as the athletic side. The schedule within the division is expected to be difficult. The hockey team, as well as many other Howell sports programs, started training with SNAQS, a training program out of Howell. Working with these trainers leads coach Mantua to know that Howell will be in better shape than most teams and “at top physical condition come playoffs.”

This season the Howell faithful can see 13 games at home, Grand Oaks Ice Arena, with one game supporting breast cancer, called the “pink” game. Howell will also play archrival Brighton outside at Comerica Park, joining in on the festivities of the Winter Classic week.

Boys Basketball

This year’s basketball team is very talented with a lot of seniors. In his first year as head coach, Nick Simon took Howell to the district championship game where they fell to South Lyon; nonetheless, that season was one of the better seasons in recent Howell basketball years. Last season also saw the rise of the infamous Howell student section, which brought a lot of the student body together to help support their fellow students. Star guard Tyler Johnson is coming into his senior season as a Highlander, trying to cap off a great high school career at Howell. He was the first varsity freshman in a while – he even started some games at that age. The seasoned Highlanders will be leaning on him this season. The team could be really successful or have a disappointing season based on how Johnson plays.

Other sports to watch

The girls Pom team won their second consecutive high kick championship on Sunday, November 3. The team is preparing for regional and state competition.

Girls basketball will be under new direction this year with their first-year coach Lee Piepho, a Howell legend. The team will have a strong senior presence with a lot of girls who are scrappy and passionate about the game. Senior Tess Weatherly will be out for the first few games after injuring her leg during fall competition. This team will lean on Weatherly and fellow senior Maggie Jenison for success this year.

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