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St. Clair Shores

January 22, 2014

South Lake boys hoops team eyes league, district titles

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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The St. Clair Shores South Lake boys basketball team is rounding into form, according to Kurt Wilson. Pictured is Cavaliers junior Damone Tillman throwing down a dunk during a Jan. 14 win over Marysville.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — In his last three seasons as coach of the Mount Clemens High boys basketball team, Kurt Wilson led his team to three straight division titles.

Wilson took over as coach of the St. Clair Shores South Lake boys hoops team Jan. 7, 2013, and he wants to bring that same type of success to his new program. He doesn’t want players and supporters of the program to have to wait for that success, either.

South Lake hasn’t won a division title since the 2007-08 season.

“We have to win now,” said Wilson, whose team had a mark of 3-4 overall, 1-2 Macomb Area Conference Silver Division, at press time. “We have to win our league. We have to win a district title. There’s no settling for moral victories. We have good big men and good guards, so we feel now is the time to win.”

Eight players return from last season’s team that went 8-12 overall, 7-7 MAC Silver. Wilson said the team started slowly this season, as it was his first full preseason with the group, but is starting to jell.

“They’re playing good defense and taking care of the ball,” said Wilson, who added free throw shooting is a concern after the team missed 16 attempts in a 50-48 win over Marysville Jan. 14.

“They’ve made a lot of strides. Taking care of the ball is hugely important. We’re going to continue to work on our free throws, but this team is showing some grit.”

Senior guard Justin Navarra said communication is also a key. He doesn’t see the team notching many wins if it isn’t on the same page on the court.

Wilson said he employs the same offensive and defensive principles he did with Mount Clemens. The Cavs utilize an up-tempo offense and a pressing, trapping style of defense. Having eight players back has helped in implementing those attacks.

“Of course, you have to see the type of personnel you have, but my style is the same that it’s always been,” said Wilson, whose team averaged 54 points per game at press time. “We’ve got the athletes to get up and down the court, and to pressure the ball. Easy buckets are fun. The kids like to get out and run up and down the court.”

Navarra and senior Damaris Heard are leading the charge. Wilson called Navarra one of his smartest players and said Heard is an emotional leader for the group.

“You can tell those two want to win bad,” Wilson said, adding that he sees them get emotional following a loss. “When I see that as a coach, it makes me want to win even more.”

Navarra said it makes him proud to know Wilson has confidence in the team.

“I think we have the tools and players to win,” Navarra said. “We need to execute, though, and play great defense. We need to play hard every game. If we do those things, we can get a lot of wins.”

South Lake’s next tip is against Center Line at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Center Line.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.