Back to Basketball: Stoney Creek Aims for District Championship
The Cougars are hungry for another shot at the district championship with fresh senior leadership and young talent at the helm.
Strength and honor.
Borrowed from the movie Gladiator, this is the message second-year head coach Steve Norgrove brings to Stoney Creek High School's basketball program.
Norgrove coached the Cougars to their first playoff victory in school history last season against a tough Rochester High School team.
"We like to promote good competition and having honor in everything we do, so that's why one of our slogans is strength and honor," Norgrove said.
Norgrove's coaching philosophy emphasizes accountability on and off the court:
Players who miss layups or don't box out for a rebound have to do two push-ups.
The losing team during scrimmage at practice runs sprints.
"We like to have winners and losers, that's just how it works, but you can lose without being a loser," Norgrove said.
While the team practices free throws, a "No Talking" rule is sometimes in effect, which forces players to focus on their shot.
Norgrove knows his philosophy is getting through to his players when they don't have to be told to hold themselves accountable. Players will do push-ups during warm-ups before a game after missing a layup.
“As a coach, what you want to see is them taking it upon themselves to be accountable for their actions," Norgrove said.
The new team shares one goal
"I was very pleased that in my first year we could play in a district final. Now the hard part is getting back there,” Norgrove said.
Three graduated seniors — Alex Jones, Taylor Rawlings and Tyler Curtis – led the Cougars in their success last season, and now returning seniors look to fill their shoes and get back to the district final.
The team beat Rochester 55-54, then lost to Adams High School 59-53.
“We lost five big seniors last year and I knew we were going to come into this year lacking leadership," senior Greg Binder said. "Being one of three returning seniors, I knew leadership would be important for me to work on for our team’s success this season.”
Binder said the off-season was important for his team’s development, and a lot of guys were in the gym working on multiple aspects of their game in the summer and fall.
"I was working mostly on my defense because that was one of the key components of my game last year, but also leadership," Binder said.
“This year coach (Norgrove) wants everyone to find their role, and really step up in that role,” senior Caleb Smydra said. “My role is to rebound, score in the post when I get the ball, push the ball to the floor and play some solid defense.”
Smydra agrees with Binder that the graduated seniors carried the team last season, but they both worked hard this off-season and neither have doubts that they can’t match last season’s success.
“Last year we had three seniors step up and take over the team; this year we have to fill our roles if we want to have similar success,” Smydra said.
The Cougars won't be relying completely on seniors to take over the team this year.
Norgrove believes junior Ben Temrowski is the best shooter on the team and gave him the “green light” to shoot when he is in the zone.
Temrowski picks his shots when he "is feeling it," and more often than not he knocks them down.
“We’re an athletic team so we can get up and down the court fast, but our size could be an issue against some teams,” Temrowski said.
About the younger players
Young talent, including freshman Eric Gilgenbach, adds depth and quickness to the team.
"Eric (Gilgenbach) doesn't play or act like a freshman. He plays hard and really gets after it, and his teammates respect him for that," Norgrove said.
Norgrove credits Binder's "practice hard" mentality being modeled by the younger players, Gilgenbach included.
"That's an example of some of our younger guys feeding off the older guys' maturity," Norgrove said.
"We’re going to try and wear people down a little bit by having a deep rotation and keeping fresh legs in the game. Our youth on the team will be expected to step up early," Norgrove said.
Norgrove said he hopes his seniors and his coaching philosophy will fix any issues they have with younger players coming off the bench in the deep Cougar rotation.
The ultimate goal — or pinnacle, as Norgrove puts it — is winning the district championship.
"We made strides last year that the school has never made; this year we’re trying to do the same thing," Norgrove said.
The Cougars were 7-15 last season but the team's real success was seen in their postseason upset against Rochester.
Stoney Creek starts the season at Royal Oak High School at 7 tonight.