By Dan Hardenbrook
Numerous school closings and cancellations caused some early season chaos for game schedules across the EUP. One local girls’ basketball team continued to battle, while another’s early season was stalled. On the boys’ side, Engadine was able to tip off their season and play twice, while Newberry was still waiting to start a new season of their own.
New coach Nate Moulton has been forced to wait a little bit longer for his debut on the sidelines, but the Indians have continued to prepare for game number one. Originally scheduled to get the new season going last Thursday the 2022-2023 season opener was delayed when Rudyard closed school due to illness Thursday and Friday. That forced the opening game back to Tuesday, Dec. 13, when the Indians hosted SAC for Cheboygan in Newberry. Game results were not available as of press time.
The Lady Indians may be 0-2 on the young season, but they have already shown signs of solid improvement. Unfortunately, they also had their most recent game cancelled due to Rudyard’s closure. The Lady Indians and Lady Bulldogs were scheduled for a Friday contest in Newberry, but the game has been pushed back to this coming Saturday as part of a triple header in Rudyard. The Boys JV will start at 11 a.m., followed by the Boys Varsity, then the Girls Varsity game. All three will be the official make up dates for last week’s cancellations.
While Newberry sat and waited, the Engadine Eagles JV and Varsity boys started their season with a pair of tough tests. The season opener saw the Cedarville-DeTour Islanders come to town, and after a slow start, it was the Islanders who caught fire and pulled away.
Cedarville-DeTour is expected to contend for the EUP title this season, and they didn’t disappoint. Luke Germain and Mikka Luoto tried to shoulder the load, but a deeper Islanders squad outran them to take home the 71-36 win. A bright spot for the Eagles was a new front court rotation of Derek Schroeder, Zach Hodley, and Brandon Wheeler, who controlled the paint and the boards when they were in the contest. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Hodley left after hitting his head on the floor, and the others got caught up in foul trouble, allowing the Islanders to take control.
It didn’t get any easier Monday night when the Eagles traveled to Munising and met up with a Mustangs team that may be among the top Division 4 teams in the U.P. this season. Engadine got overwhelmed early, as the Mustangs didn’t let up, outscoring the Eagles 32-2 in the first half and winning 65-9. Luoto had 7 of the 9 points for the Eagles.
Things are still a work in progress for the Engadine Lady Eagles. After a 2-0 start to the season, a pair of tough matchups has dropped Engadine to 2-2 on the season. While the Lady Eagles look to continue developing their younger players, senior Leah French has had to find ways to produce while attracting all of the opponent’s attention.
French had her first triple-double of the season, scoring 23 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and finishing with 10 steals. The Lady Eagles had one of their most balanced performances of the season in the 60-40 loss to the Lady Islanders.
Hali Butkovich continues to contribute, scoring four points, while Claire Oven and Bryce Zdebski returned from injuries to combine for 10 points.
Coach Roger French credited the Lady Islanders’ experience. “We went up against a team with five senior starters. Two of them are five-year varsity players,” French said. “With a young squad behind Leah, I thought we competed against them. At this point in the year, that was what I wanted to see.”