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New head coach, same high expectations for Montague girls basketball in 2021-22

Nick Thaler takes over for Wildcats after Cody Kater leads them to back-to-back West Michigan Conference titles.

Media day photos by Cody Ottinger and Kara Raeth | CatchMark

Montague’s 2021-22 girls basketball team attended the VanDyk Mortgage West Michigan Conference media day last Wednesday at the Viking Athletic Center (VAC) in Whitehall.

Here is a season preview for the Wildcats, who are two-time defending champions in the conference:

COACH: Nick Thaler (1st year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 17-1 overall (14-0 West Michigan Conference, 1st place).

RETURNING STARTER: Kendall Osborne (Sophomore, Point Guard, 5-10).

KEY RETURNEES: Brooke Stark (Senior, Point Guard, 5-2); Claire Meacham (Senior, Forward, 5-11); Maddie Meacham (Senior, Forward, 5-11); Emma Dyer (Senior, Guard, 5-6)

NEW PROSPECTS: Haylee Schwarz (Junior, Guard, 5-7); Britta Johnson (Sophomore, Guard, 5-8); Emma Peterson (Junior, Guard, 5-7).

STRENGTHS: The biggest strength of the Wildcats is their ability to compete and work hard, Thaler said. Their athleticism across the board will help defensively and offensively with the things they’re trying to achieve. Length within the core group also could be an advantage as the season progresses.

WEAKNESSES: According to Thaler, Montague’s biggest weakness is trusting instincts. The Wildcats need to get game reps under their belts in order to play their best basketball. A recent scrimmage against Newaygo, which made it to the Division 2 state finals last season, gave the Wildcats a confidence boost to show they can compete with anyone.

SEASON OUTLOOK: This is Thaler’s first head-coaching job at the varsity level. He takes over for Cody Kater after having served as JV head coach and varsity assistant with the Grand Haven boys program.

Montague was 15-0 in the COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 regular season. The Wildcats captured a Division 2 district title before they ran into the Newaygo buzzsaw in the regional semifinals.

Thaler said that Montague’s success this season will be determined by how the Wildcats progress offensively.

“I’ve always thought that offensively as we being our seasons always seem to start off slow,” he said. “The league this year, I think, is very competitive with Hart being the favorite and the rest of us battling it out for the other spots.”

Montague faces a tough schedule. The Wildcats scrimmaged Newaygo, as previously alluded, and they’re also facing Western Michigan Christian and Comstock Park, in addition to two big conference showdowns against favorite Hart and two more with arch-rival Whitehall.

RELATED READING:

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Shelby preview

Hart preview

Montague preview

Whitehall preview

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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