Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mariner boys look ahead to winning hoops season

By Angelina Skowronski
For the homer news


Photo by Angelina Skowronski

It's Homer vs. Homer for Quin Daugharty (11), Norm Anderson pi(2010 graduate, 31) and others in the Alumni Game.

"We have signs of brilliance," Mariners' Head Basketball Coach Mark Casseri says about his team.

The Mariner boys are rallying around a new season, new lessons and big wins.

"The goal is to make it to state," said Casseri. With a good handful of seniors on the team this year and plenty of underclassmen to learn from the best, Casseri believes his squad can beat anyone they play.

With the coaching experience of more than 100 years split between Casseri and assistant coaches Tim Daugherty and Brent Keene, the boys will be getting their fair share of tried-and-true coaching.

These three don't stop coaching at the gym doors. They meet before and after each practice every day to discuss corrections and changes to the curriculum, and reconvene Sunday mornings in Casseri's math classroom to review game film.

"It's important that we are all on the same page so that when the boys get an answer, they know it's the same answer from all three of us," said Casseri. "We teach them basketball and get them ready to play."

When not making lesson plans, Casseri is making practice plans. "I learned years ago that you learn better with little increments consistently rather than long increments inconsistently," said Casseri. He puts the team through a battle of non-stop, 10-minute drills to keep his team on the ball, literally.

"When you've only got five guys playing on the court, you can't hide weaknesses, so we've got to make sure these boys don't have any," said Casseri.

Aside from teaching ball skills, Casseri, Daugherty and Keene are committed to teaching their boys life skills.

"We teach not only game quality, but life quality; because that is what it takes to win," said Casseri.

Elders show students

thing or two on the court

Winning is not everything and both the boys and girls teams learned this on Friday evening's Alumni Game at Homer High School. Students old and new, parents, and friends filled the Alice Witte Gymnasium to take shelter from the white-out conditions outside. The boys put up a good fight through the periods, but lost against their elders 55-43. The girls also had a tough battle against the female graduates and lost 40-26.

"This is a fun thing we do where the old guys play the young guys; in the end Homer always wins," said boys assistant coach Tim Daugherty. "The boys did well at the end with playtime and the defense looked good the last few minutes."

Alumnus Aaron Isenhour, who graduated in 2002, came to the game as a spectator, but ended up on the court.

"I guess I had to come out and be the old guy," said Isenhour. "We're in the game and we're competing, but it isn't as pretty as it could be if we practiced."

Junior Varsity Coach Dan Miotke lead the girls team. With the winter break schedule, it has been difficult for Miotke to prepare for the game and get the whole team together for practice.

"We have a good mix of kids this year," said Miotke. "And a lot of younger kids participated in this game so we were at a disadvantage because of age."

Junior Miranda Beach recognized some of the team's drawbacks.

"We are missing a lot of players so we had a lot of shoes to fill, but I feel like the team did a good job in stepping up to the plate when needed."

Fellow junior, Maggie Graham, said she'll use this "fun" game as a benefit for the team. "During the season we'll remember how we played at the alumni game and work even harder so that we never come back to it."

Longtime basketball coach Deb Lowney has been involved in the Alumni Game, formally the Alice Witte Challenge, since its birth 17 years ago. Lowney guided the women's alumni team Friday night.

"We had a mix of women of all ages who never had the opportunity to do

practice," said Lowney. "I think we had a good show for ourselves and a good

game for the kids."

Lowney said that the focus of the alumni women's team was to put pressure on the high school team to play a more technical game, something the alumni team, with the women's many years of combined experience, know well.

"The high school girls out-rebounded us and had good box outs," said Lowney. "I was very impressed with their play."

In the tradition of the Alumni Game, Homer always wins. Boys, girls, men and women took home a little piece of gold with satisfaction that it was all in good fun.


Photo by Angelina Skowronski

It's Homer vs. Homer for Quin Daugharty (11), Norm Anderson

pi(2010 graduate, 31) and others in the Alumni Game.