"Doing it together" led FHS cagers to TVC, district titles
Frankenmuth varsity boys’ basketball Coach Andy Donovan knew his group of cagers could be successful this season, if they approached their play as a team.
The ‘Muth squad finished 12-2 in the Tri-Valley Conference East Division to win the league crown and recorded an 18-5 overall mark for the season.
Senior Colton Zimmer was first-team All-TVC East player, followed by juniors Zac Janson and Sam Bookmyer and freshman Mario Whitely as second-team picks and senior Aaron Krafft and junior Brady Wood landed All-TVC East honorable mention accords.
The Saginaw News named FHS the top Class B team in their coverage area. On Monday afternoon, Donovan learned that the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) listed FHS on its Class B All-Academic Team. ‘Muth was fifth with a 3.588 GPA.
Donovan felt his team would be good this season, based on how young they were last year and by how many close games they were in last year.
“I had a feeling we could be good this year. In talking with Assistant Coach Matt Cramer, we felt with hard work we would be tough. But we also knew the league would have parity.”
The work started in the summer and it was at that time the season got off to a solid start.
“We played really well in the summer. We got a lot better in terms of competitiveness, practice and scrimmages. Thanks to our hard work, we reached our goals of a TVC East title and a district championship,” Donovan stated.
Donovan instilled the value of winning in a different manner, meaning doing it all together and in an unselfish manner.
“We could not rely on one or two guys. We needed all to be ready to go, including the role players to step up. We had so many deserving all-league players, however, their stats were all deflated because of our unselfish play,” the coach said.
Frankenmuth won the rebounding and turnover battle in 21 of their 23 games this season, leading to their winning record.
Four players averaged between 7-10 points a game, six players had 26 or more assists and five players had 50 or more rebounds.
Senior Colton Zimmer was one the team’s three captains and did it all for the Eagles. He was also chosen the Team MVP.
𠇌olton was our stat sheet stuffer. He did it all for us, including leading us with 95 assists while committing just 41 turnovers. He was our primary ball handler, he has a high basketball IQ, is very competitive and is a facilitator,” Donovan said.
Zimmer finished with a 6.6 points per game average and was the team’s second leading rebounder with 148 boards.
“He knew how to get to the right spots for rebounds,” Donovan added.
Senior Nick Szczepanski was also a captain who saw spot duty on the court.
“Nick is an excellent shooter and a young man who plays with the art of physicality. He’s a size 10 center . . . if he was 6-3 or 6-5, he would be an all-league player,” Donovan noted.
Szczepanski also has a high basketball IQ, and was a coach from the bench, often giving Donovan good ideas.
“He is just a great leader,” the coach added.
Senior Aaron Krafft led ‘Muth with 56 steals, was third in assists (43) and finished with 127 points.
ron is extremely competitive, a natural athlete without trying to create a pun, is a crafty player when getting to the basket. His role changed this season and he shot 50 less shots this season but he did great with that,” Donovan said.
Because he anticipates well, Krafft often guarded the opposing team’s best guard.
Senior Mitchell Kischnick filled his role on the team and brought his best to the gym, whether in games or in practice.
“Mitchell brings a lot of energy to all he does. He’s a fast player, an excellent defender and a great teammate. He’s on the debate team and he brought that vocal quality to the bench,” Donovan explained. “He was a lot of fun to coach.”
Senior Jonny Zink was another vocal leader, a hard worker and always brought 100-percent in all he did.
𠇊lthough he did not get a ton of minutes, Jonny’s improvement for his junior to his senior year was phenomenal,” Donovan said.
Zink also took sophomore Aaron Haubenstricker under his wing, using his leadership role to push and encourage Aaron to become better. Zink was given the Pride Award by Donovan.
“He was a reflection of the senior class. They were tough, unselfish and fun to coach and I’m going to miss them,” the coach said.
Junior Sam Bookmyer completed his third year on the varsity and was also team captain.
“Sam set the bar high for demonstrating what hard, tough play is. He is a physical kid who you want on your team, and not play against him. He influences the game in so many ways,” Donovan commented.
Bookmyer, who was an All-TVC East second team choice, showed his toughness by taking a team-high 20 charges. He scored 170 points and was third with 134 rebounds.
Junior Zac Janson scored nearly 10 points per game (finishing with 217 this season) and drained 49 of 135 three-point attempts (36 percent). He was second with 53 assists and shot 74 percent from the free throw line (32 of 43).
“Zac is a tough kid, a real shooter and an all-around solid player. He is just a steady player, whether in a game or in practice. He talks well and makes the right plays while hunting for shots,” Donovan stated.
Janson connected on a lot of big shots, whether early in the game to establish momentum or down the stretch to seal up close contests. Against Flint Northwestern, Janson brought poise as a defender against their best scoring options and had only a couple turnovers against a team that lives off their press.
Janson was an All-TVC East second-team pick.
Junior Brady Wood was a “sixth starter” and brought his high basketball IQ into games coming off the bench.
𠇋rady is a natural scorer, a passionate player and very competitive. He’s our Vinny Johnson off the bench by finishing at the rim or hitting a three pointer,” Donovan said.
Wood and Janson were close in statistics. Wood scored 212 points, was 28 of 93 from the three-point line (30 percent) and 52 of 71 from the free throw line (73 percent).
Junior Grant Reene was voted the team’s Most Improved Player.
“With his length and his endurance, he is a player who can run and go all day. He has a knack for scoring, saw good minutes off the bench and he plays good defense, especially in our zone defense,” Donovan said.
Donovan called Reene 𠇊 game changer” in some big TVC East contests this season. He was second on the team with 12 blocked shots.
Junior Dwan Bennett continued to improve his play as the season went on.
𠇍wan is a very skilled player and an athlete with quickness and speed. He’s a gym rat, he likes working on his game and always wants to learn . . . he’s a pleasure to coach,” Donovan said.
Sophomore Aaron Haubenstricker saw his court time increase as he got acclimated to the speed of the varsity game.
ron’s a kid with a great motor and nose for the ball; he uses his size well. He shot over 50 percent from the floor and was a really solid contributor for us. I see him improving around the rim, being a shot protector and beginning to finish well at the basket,” the coach stated.
Sophomore Grant Bronner also shot over 50 percent from the floor and was a rim attacker with his long and athletic body.
“Grant had a number of good games for us, including LakeVille at home and at Garber and at Bridgeport. He has a ton of ability and we’ll look for him to score in the paint next season,” Donovan said.
Freshman Mario Whitely led the Eagles with 245 points (10.7 points a game) as well as rebounds (156) and blocked shots (26).
“Mario is a gifted athlete with a smooth game. He’s very explosive yet he had only 22 turnovers this season. He learned a ton this season,” Donovan said.
Whitely had his freshman “up and down moments” but played huge in many games, including both games against Bridgeport, against North Branch at home and against Flint Powers Catholic and Flint Northwestern.
The junior varsity finished 17-3 and with program continuity being built from the seventh grade and up, Donovan expects to compete well next season.
“I’m so proud of this team because we did it together,” Donovan concluded.