Bellaire Looks to Continue Ski Valley Dominance
BELLAIRE – Over the course of the last five seasons, the numbers that the Bellaire boys basketball program have produced are rivaled by few in northern Michigan.
Owners of a 111-9 record over the last five seasons and winners of five consecutive Ski Valley Conference titles, the Eagles have averaged more than 22 wins in each of those conference championship seasons and made quarterfinal appearances in two of those years.
A year after ending its season in the Class D quarterfinals for the first time since the 2012-13 season, the ninth-ranked Eagles hit a bump early this year, dropping their season opener to Harbor Springs, 40-37. Bellaire has responded though by winning seven straight, including sporting a 5-0 start in league play.
"We weren’t fully playing together that first game of the season, but we’re definitely playing a lot better now,” Bellaire senior Michael Niepoth said.
Joined by Gabe Meriwether, who just recently joined the 1,000-point club, Michael Niepoth is one of nine seniors that help round out Bellaire’s loaded roster.
“We’ve got nine players, and nine of them can play,” Bellaire coach Stan Sexton said. “Gabe’s our kingpin, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a great basketball player. He’s put in a lot of time and effort from the day he’s been knee-high to a grasshopper, and he’s definitely a big part of what we do."
As for the SVC, Bellaire remains the lone undefeated team in conference play, with Pellston sitting in second play with one loss and Gaylord St. Mary in third with three.
"There’s a lot of young teams in the Ski Valley this year, and we’re one of them,” Sexton said. "We’re all battling that green, inexperienced… and we’re improving with each game, and we’re going to get better and better."
Bellaire continues SVC play at home against Pellston on Thursday.