The 2013-14 season should be an exciting one for Cougar fans. On the men's team, starting returners from last year include Jevonte Hughes and Tyler Oliver who both received all-conference honors last season and should provide a potent scoring attack this year. Keegan Lablance will return as the point guard and will look to push the ball and get the whole team involved.
Nate Casanto returns as a do-it-all player who is willing to step in and fill any role asked of him. He sets a positive example for the other players. Red shirt sophomore Jaylen Larry gives the Cougars a solid post presence on both ends of the floor. Sophomore transfers John Mosley from Avila University in Kansas City, MO. and Andrew Scarton from Owens C.C. in Toledo, OH will add leadership and depth to the front and back court.
The Cougars’ eleven-man freshman class provides great skill and athleticism to this year’s team. Sharp shooters Jibreel Hussein and Jeremy Williamson will help extend defenses while Juwon Martin, Tarae Potter, Tony Wimberly, and Jaylen Norwood provide tremendous athleticism to both ends of the floor. Denolius Burkes and D’Vonte Dockery will fill various roles by playing multiple positions and making match-ups difficult for opposing teams.
Finalizing the freshman class is lightning-quick point guard Davonte Harris and solid post players Tevis Robinson and Joe Jeffreys.
It might appear that the 2013-14 season, coming off seasons of 28 and 24 wins, would be a rebuilding year for the traditionally rich Lady Cougar program. Coach Ron Welch disagrees.
The Cougars have two returning players from last year’s conference champions, but they are solid and talented. Led by guard Selena Martinez and ‘jumping jack’ post player Melina DeKilder, the talent is there. Martinez started six games last year and averaged a solid 6.5 ppg.
“Selena’s a very polished offensive player,” said Coach Welch. DeKilder is a spectacular athlete who finished the season strongly with great performances in the post season. "DeKilder needs to develop a little ‘edge’ to her. She has the skills to be an all star in this league,” says coach. “Also joining is a well-known name in the Kalamazoo area – Kelsey Adamski. She played at Cornerstone University after a spectacular career at Gull Lake High School. “Kelsey played in every contest last year for Cornerstone, with a 21 point outburst against Lawrence Tech in which she had five threes. She has taken over our team as point guard.”
Two other standouts are Danielle Ballard, who practiced last year with the Cougars after transferring from Moraine Valley (IL) and Andrea Polley, former Delton star who played last year at league rival Kellogg.
The final piece of the Kalamazoo Valley puzzle is what Coach Welch calls “one of the most talented freshman classes we have had.” Multiple players from two different schools have joined the Lady Cougars. Three players from last year’s successful Climax Scotts team that advanced to the state semi-final and three players from Delton Kellogg team that made it to the state quarterfinal. “We’ve taken multiple players from teams once before,” explained Welch. “But there are good players in this group,” he says.
This should be another exciting year at Cougar Arena as they strive to be Western Conference Champions for the fourth time in the past five years. The conference will be very balanced. But, as it does every year, the road to the championship usually goes directly through Kalamazoo Valley. This year’s team is protecting that 37-game home court winning streak – longest in Kalamazoo Valley history. The ladies are working very hard to make sure that the conference crown returns to Kalamazoo in 2013-14.