Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports Columnists

March 5, 2013

Dennis Chase: Only Mother Nature can slow Bellaire

Stan Sexton likes to say his Bellaire Eagles ended the regular season 19-1.

"We won 19 and Mother Nature won one," he said, laughing. "But she beat up on a number of teams this winter."

Well, the Eagles are 20-0 now after Monday night's Class D district-opening basketball win over Gaylord St. Mary.

This on the heels of a 24-2 campaign that ended in the quarterfinals last March.

All this success should not come as a surprise because Bellaire's been consistently good under Sexton. In fact. the Eagles will be seeking a 16th district title under the BCAM Hall of Fame coach, who led the varsity for three years in the late 1970s and then came back to head the program again starting in 1992. Sexton's won well over 400 games at the varsity level. He has a winning percentage of 76 percent.

Sexton is quick to share the credit, praising the players, parents and the coaches in the system, especially those in the feeder programs that are often overlooked. He knows that's where it all starts and that's why he appreciates the work Paul Koepke is doing with the youth program now.

"That's been a key," Sexton said. "We have coaches with great experience and who want to be here. And then we have kids who want to play basketball. It's been encouraged from third grade on through."

Right now, though, Sexton is immersed in the present, and he likes the make-up of this Eagles team. He likes the high-low offense that 6-5 senior Mitch Teetzel and 6-4 senior Drew Bailey provide. He likes the versatility of 6-3 junior Denny Hall. He likes the perimeter game Tyler Thornton brings to the table (50 percent from the 3-point arc). And he likes the job Adam Underwood is doing at the point.

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