Well, I guess we’re onto the winter sports season.
Wasn’t it just August?
I suppose hockey has already been going this winter, with the Northmen playing one game, though basketball season around the state officially starts up this week and basketball has always been winter’s main attraction in the eyes of most.
I could have gone for a bit more of a break between the fall and winter seasons, but I also don’t make the rules.
Speaking of rules, there’s been some changes to the winter sports season if you haven’t already heard.
They mainly impact basketball and some have already had, well, an impact. The season was shortened and extended.
Sorry, I got a little Yogi Berra on you there.
The amount of practice time before the start of the season for both boys and girls hoops was cut, with the boys having just a shortened Thanksgiving week and this week to prepare for the start of the season next week.
Girls got a full week in and then the shortened Thanksgiving week before the start. Practice time in total went from a max of 21 days to 14 day, though the holiday break cut it even shorter.
On top of that, two more games were added to the schedule and postseason dates were kept right where they’ve been.
As a sportswriter who sees all these games, that kind of makes me scratch my head.
A 22 game season is said to be on-par with other midwest states, but I see a lot of these teams just tired as can be entering the postseason after three full months of games. Some aren’t just tired, they’re over it even.
So often, one of the biggest complaints I get from coaches is there’s just no practice time. There’s no time to put in new wrinkles during the season or work on changes.
The weeks are filled with three games a week usually and when you add in weather postponements – which happens often up here – teams will sometimes go back to back in a three- or four-game week.
Adding games sounds good on paper, but I’m interested to see the product of basketball we’ll get come the final week of February as a result.
Many teams have used the extra two games to schedule some challenges or get in some tournament play over the winter break.
And, speaking of could use a break, that’s not something a lot of teams will have at the end of December.
I can remember not too long ago, nobody was playing over the winter break period. Looking at the schedule now, there’s no break associated with it for a lot of teams.
Petoskey’s boys will get in their annual trip to the Grand Haven tournament, something they’ve been doing for now seven straight years, though they’ve got company in late December now.
Boyne City’s boys and girls will head up to the Upper Peninsula for matchups with Negaunee and Marquette, as will both Charlevoix teams, while both Harbor Springs teams will head down to a Northville hosted showcase.
That all makes for a busy end of 2022.
Once 2023 starts up and conference games really get going, the most notable thing fans will notice around here are when the games come.
The Big North Conference will go to girls and boys double-headers for every league game, with varsity girls games starting at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity boys following around 7 p.m. It’s similar to what they did during the COVID shortened season a few years back.
The Lake Michigan Conference went the double-header route for Friday nights for years, though will stay away from that format for a third straight now.
The majority of basketball games in the area will fall on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights, though Friday has some surprisingly bare nights in January and February.
As for the teams that’ll be making up these games, I’m excited to watch the Boyne City boys again this season and Petoskey will put on a competitive show each and every season. I’m also curious to see if a team like the Harbor Light Christian boys can take another jump after earning their first district title in 10 years last season and having over 10 guys back. Head coach Jason Roussin always does a great job with program.
On the girls side, Harbor Springs will be great to follow again and the core of some recent great Mackinaw City teams is all back, so I’ll expect to be making some trips up just south of the bridge. Petoskey’s girls also have an extremely talented group back and I’ve got some high expectations for them this season.
It’ll also be interesting to see the Charlevoix program, as Anthony Troshak takes over the boys team and Reece Koepke leads the girls, with the pair taking over for Matt Stuck and Marc Sroufe, respectively.
There’s plenty of action this first week for girls games, with a host of games opening night on Tuesday, while Petoskey’s girls will welcome in a trio of teams this Friday and Saturday for their annual holiday tournament as well.
Whether you’re ready or not, here comes winter and the second MHSAA athletic season already.