Howell boys begin 2018 with date vs. DeWitt — with broadcast link

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HOWELL — All things considered, Howell boys basketball coach Nick Simon likes the idea of beginning the 2018 portion of the regular season at home tonight.

“I think home court’s always an advantage,” he said Tuesday. “But after the long break, it’s kind of nice to play at home. We got a lot of shots up over the break at our home gym, so I think it’s a little bit of an advantage.”

The Highlanders play host to DeWitt tonight. The game will be broadcast on The Livingston Post starting at about 7 p.m.

“They’re going to be incredibly fundamentally sound,” Simon said of the Panthers, who, like Howell, are 4-1. “They have good size, they shoot the ball well and they run their stuff very well. They’re going to give us a good test. They tend to play really, really hard and execute very well.”

The Panthers, like most teams, will have a size advantage in the post over the Highlanders. But the Highlanders already have faced a team like DeWitt, beating Williamston on Dec. 12.

“I think Williamston was a good look for us early in the year,” Simon said. “(DeWitt) has a lot of size, probably as much size as anyone’s going to have. We’re going to work hard and make sure that size doesn’t affect us.”

What could be another X factor for the Highlanders is guard Johnny Shields, whose injured foot sidelined him for the entire fall and workouts until two days before the season opener.

“He was hurt for a long time,” Simon said. “Over the break, I finally saw the Johnny we had last year. He’s been working his tail off in practice and was making plays.”

Shields’ re-emergence could be good news for Josh Palo, the junior guard who’s been averaging 26 points per game in the first month of the season.

“They’re a good team,” Palo said of DeWitt. “They’ve got those two big guys, but we just have to come out with energy and we can beat them.”

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