The Polson Pirates boys basketball team has developed a solid reputation under Pirates’ coach Randy Kelley.
Last year, without the star power he had in 2016-17 with Matthew Rensvold and Tanner Wilson anchoring his team, Kelley transformed his younger Pirates’ basketball team into a Class A Montana High School Association Northwest A champion.
In an interview with The Leader, Ronan head coach Mitchell Wassum praised Kelley’s coaching style.
“Every year they are scrappy, and that is part of Polson’s tradition,” Wassum said. “That is why they’ve won a lot of games over the past 15 years. They have players like Connor Lanier and Robin Erickson, both All-Conference kids, and they are going to be solid. They have a good group of kids, and that Northwest A is really tough. There is no easy night in the Northwest A District.”
Last year, the Pirates captured a district crown.
“We have some younger kids that are going to be playing for us,” Kelley said. “We also will have some seniors that are going to give us some good leadership. You are going to see some younger kids playing for us headed into the season.”
Polson will have a few players coming back such as Lanier, Erickson, Ryker Wenderoth and Trevor Schultz.
“I think with the kids we have coming back defensively we will be able to press more,” Kelley said. “Until we have some of these kids that have playing time at the varsity level, our team is pretty good. we are smaller in statute, but the kids we have coming back will play some good minutes early on in the season. I think we have about 10 kids on our team that will do some good things.”
Other key returners include Parker Toth, Seth Lake, Keyan Dalby, Cordell Walker and freshman Colton Graham. Bo Kelley and Trevor Lake will be two other key returners for the Pirates headed into the season.
With so many key area players returning in the Northwest A, it will make every match tough for Polson.
Ryggs Johnston from Libby is one of the top-shooting guards in the state of Montana, Browning boasts of several returners, and Whitefish will feature two players who are over 6 feet, 5 inches tall.
“District-wise, it will probably be a closer race than we’ve had in a long time,” Kelley said.
(2017-18: 11-11, 1,145pts)
NWA Tourney champion
coach: Randy Kelley,
asst: Brad Fisher, John Kelley, Tim Lake
Asa Askan (BBB Div all-trny hm), tm 1st 3FG(x21), 110p
Shade Main (BBB a-s, Div 2x all-trny hm) led both scoring and rebounding, career high 27p
Sam Schultz (SS2017-18: 54p,36r,30a,12s,2b)
Weston Danley (WD2017-18: 94p,77r)
sr. 6-0 G Robin Erickson, career high 16p
(BBB a-c hm; BSC: 2x a-s, 2x a-c 1st-tm), tm 3rd(p)
sr. 6-2 G/F Connor Lanier, career high 28p
tm: 1st(a), 2nd(p,r)
(BBB a-c 2nd-tm; BSC a-s 2017, 2x a-c: 1st-tm 2017, 2nd-tm 2018; FB 1st-tm P 2017; TF a-s 2017: tj 4th, a-c 110h 6th), (CL2017-18: 274p, 140r, 79a, 35s)
v2yr+ sub-tally: 370p, 189r, 118a
sr. 5-10 G Keyan Dalbey (BSC 2018 Coaches Award)
jr. 5-9 G Ryker Wenderoth (FB a-c hm CB)
jr. 6-1 F Trevor Schultz (FB a-c 1st-tm TE)
sr. 6-2 F Kordell Walker,
sr. 6-1 F Parker Toth
sr. 6-1 F Micah Askan (33p)
jr. 5-10 G Bo Kelley
jr. 6-4 P Seth Lake
so. 6-4 P Trevor Lake
player(s) to watch:
fr.6-1 F Colton Graham
NWA vs SWA Tip-Off
Fr07Dec vs Stevensville
Sa08Dec vs Hamilton
— John Heglie contributed to this article.