After more than a month of preparation, the reason for the season begins tonight in the KLAA, when the division schedule begins in earnest.
“That’s what the preseason is for,” said Brighton coach Mike Griest, whose team travels to Pinckney tonight, “to get great for that competition to see a bunch of different styles. Now we get back into some familiarity, us with our opponents, and our opponents with us.”
Brighton goes in 2-5, with a pair of overtime losses. But the Bulldogs are 1-0 in the division after a home win against Grand Blanc three weeks ago.
“We played well that night, shot pretty well, played good defense and rebounded well,” Griest said. “I think there was probably some surprise around the league, but it definitely opens up the way for everyone in their mindset, because (Grand Blanc) has been the favorite and has won so much.”
Pinckney (5-1) lost its division opener to Hartland, a team that made the most of its height advantage over the Pirates. That won’t be a problem tonight.
“We match up, size-wise, fairly well,” Griest said. “Our guards and their guards, our poses and their posts. One thing they have that pretty much every team has going against us is experience. They’ve got 2-3 guards who have been there since they were freshmen and sophomores, and now they’re seniors, and you can’t beat experience.”
While the Bulldogs may be a little short on experience, they’ve been gaining it in leaps and bounds.
“All of these games have been learning opportunities for us,” Griest said. “We’ll look at film, talk and think about things we could have done better, and hopefully those lessons will serve us well in the division race.”
Griest, now in his third stint as Brighton coach, and Pinckney counterpart Tom Reason have been coaching against each other for years now.
“Tom coaches the same year after year and does a great job with the kids,” Griest said. “They work super hard, they’re tough kids, they execute well, they’re really athletic and they fly around. We have to battle that, especially at their place, where they’re even tougher.”
The quest for a division title begins in earnest tonight and continues on nearly every Tuesday and Friday for the next month, a challenge both teams undertake tonight.
“The kids are playing against people they know, kids they played against growing up,” Griest said. “There’s a lot of pride involved here. You’re playing for your town. You want to beat your buddies and the kids you know. It should be a good battle.”