By Paul Costanzo
Special for Second Half
Championship celebrations aren’t unfamiliar in Marine City. It’s just that they typically don’t happen after a boys basketball game.
The town most known for its football prowess is experiencing some extra excitement this winter, as the basketball program – now led by the same man who leads the football program, coach Ron Glodich – is seeing success it hasn’t seen in decades.
On Jan. 22, the Mariners boys basketball team clinched its first conference title since 1985, and three nights later, after another Macomb Area Conference Bronze win, they cut down the nets in their home gym.
“It was a great feeling, because I’m going to keep that net for the rest of my life,” Marine City junior Angelo Patsalis said. “When I look back at it, I’ll know this team was special.”
The Mariners were 10-2 overall and 7-0 in the MAC Bronze through January, and are changing the way people feel about their program. Now big, raucous crowds aren’t limited to just fall Fridays at East China Stadium.
“It’s definitely starting to change,” senior point guard Jack Kretzschmar said. “We didn’t really used to get a lot of people at home games because people just assumed we were going to lose. Now everyone is starting to show up, and the atmosphere they’re bringing to basketball is crazy.”
It’s no coincidence that Glodich, who has had multiple roles in Marine City athletics since taking a job at the school in 1987, is a common thread between the programs.
Most of his success has come on the football field, where he’s been head coach since 2012, and was the offensive coordinator prior to that, as the team won Division 4 championships in 2007 and 2013 and made several other deep playoff runs. He’s also coached volleyball and baseball and had a previous stint as the boys basketball coach during the early 2000s.
For the football players who also play basketball at Marine City, they knew exactly what to expect when Glodich took over.
“It’s the same guy,” Patsalis said. “If we’re in halftime and down by a couple points and not playing well, he still gets pretty fired up. The intensity kind of helps, because it fires you up to be better and pushes you to get to your potential.”
While each sport has its own quirks, Glodich has been able to apply many of his same coaching philosophies no matter which ball is in play.
“One of the things that stays consistent (from sport to sport) is the way we practice,” Glodich said. “We believe in high tempo, fast-paced practices. We break things down to bits and pieces and work on them, and that stays consistent. Getting into a good stance, that’s a commonality in all sports.”
A commonality between Glodich’s football and basketball methods is movement on offense, and just like it has done for decades on the gridiron, it’s having success now on the court.
“We know how to score and how to get kids moving, which makes us difficult to defend,” Glodich said. “We have one base offense, but we have some wrinkles going on. This group has some very good team speed, and we’re trying to put pressure on defenses, not letting them get settled.”
That speed also allows the Mariners to run, making up for a lack of size as the Mariners’ tallest player stands at just 6 feet, 4 inches.
“Even the drills we do in practice, basically we’re always running, and that correlates to the games,” Kretzschmar said. “Everyone on our team has such a high basketball IQ and we have a lot of chemistry built in over the last few years, so we know that we’re best when we’re running.”
That strategy helped make it a bit easier to transition from a football season that ended in the Division 5 Semifinals to the opening night of hoops in less than two weeks.
“Football got us conditioned, so we were already conditioned when we started the season,” Patsalis said. “When we got against that first team, we were ready to go.”
Glodich’s strong supporting staff also played a large role.
“Thankfully, I have a wonderful JV coach in Scott Hand,” Glodich said. “Not only did we go deep into the season with football, but basketball started a week early. In November, I had shoulder surgery, so it’s been a blessing to have such a wonderful JV coach who could handle things.”
The strong start never really stopped, as even the Mariners’ two losses came in double overtime against rival St. Clair, and to a 13-1 Richmond team. Winning the conference title was just the start, as there’s plenty more to play for the rest of the season.
“After Tuesday of next week, we get into the MAC tournament, so the Bronze and the Silver have four teams from each cross over in a three-game tournament,” Glodich said. “We would like to show that the Bronze, even though we’re the bottom level of the MAC, have a level of play that’s as competitive as the next league. Then, obviously, we move on to the District.”
There’s a long way to go, but the Mariners hope to at least continue building Marine City’s reputation as more than a football school.
“We kind of have a chip on our shoulder, because we’ve been known as a ‘football’ school for so long; we’re looking to bring that to basketball,” Kretzschmar said. “I think it’s just a special group of kids that we have, and everyone is trying to kind of change the culture to being an ‘athletic’ school.”
Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at email@example.com with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Marine City’s Reese Adamczyk (40) pulls up for a jumper during last week’s win over Center Line. (Middle) Mariners coach Ron Glodich. (Below) Tanner Mason (33) muscles for a shot in the post. (Action photos by Ally Swantek.)