Veteran coach Jerry Makuch will patrol Roosevelt sideline

Samantha Smith (52), Laila Carroll (3) and Nae Atwater-Boyd (5) converge on a rebound. Photo by Larry Caruso.

Hank Minckiewicz
– Wyandotte Warrior

An iconic high school basketball coach – Jerry Makuch – has put aside retirement and will patrol the sideline at Wyandotte Roosevelt this season.

Makuch, who led the Mount Carmel Comets to a girls Class C state basketball championship back in the mid 1980s is the new girls coach at Roosevelt this season.

“Well, I’m retired now, so I have plenty of time,” Makuch said. “I interviewed for the job and I guess I did okay, because they offered it to me the next day. I’ve still got the bug.”

He will get some help on the sideline by his volunteer coach and wife, Carol, who has a pretty good resume herself as a former Michigan Miss Basketball.

Just five weeks into his return to the bench, Makuch said things have been wonderful.

“The girls have been great, they are almost too nice. I’d like them to be a little meaner on the court,” he said. “Really, you couldn’t ask for a better group of young ladies to coach.”

Makuch said his team is a good mix of seniors and juniors with a sophomore tossed in and he said they are a talented group.

Although the Bears have lost their first couple of non-league games, Makuch said he chalked that up to him shuffling line-ups to see what group works best together.

“This is a really competitive group,” Makuch said. “I am still looking for the right line-up, for that right continuity that we need.

“I have been mixing and matching line-ups and I really don’t have the right gut feeling yet.”

One thing is sure, the Bears will rely heavily on seniors Samantha Smith and Addy Nothnagel – will be keystones on this year’s team.

Mukuch said Smith, especially, is a special type of player.

“She is a legitimate 6-footer, she can jump well, she can handle the ball and she has a nice touch. She can do it all,” he said.

Smith and Nothnagel are joined on the team by fellow seniors Hailey Hamel, Laila Carroll, Jaz Baker and Katlyn Patterson, juniors Baylee Unverzagt, Kate Bezzo, Nae Atwater-Boyd, Olivia Hardar, Hanna Exner, Alayna Jacobs, Teagan Beemer and Elle Gonzalez and sophomore Courtney Olson. 

The Bears had one more non-league game to work things out – Dec. 10 against Monroe High – before getting the Downriver League season started Dec. 13 against Southgate Anderson. The Bears then have one more league game on Dec. 17 against Taylor before taking a break for the Christmas holiday.

Makuch said Trenton defending league champion Allen Park look like two of the strongest teams in the league this season. He added that he hopes his Bears are in the same class.

The Trenton games will be red letter days for the new Roosevelt coach as the Trojans’ top player is Makuch’s granddaughter. The Trojans are now coached by Chuck Perez, who helped build Allen Park into a Downriver League girls basketball powerhouse.

“Trenton has a very strong team.” Makuch said. “And Allen Park, they do a real nice job over there.”

Roosevelt Girls Basketball Roster

1 Baylee Unverzagt
2 Hailey Hamel
3 Laila Carroll
4 Kate Bezzo
5 Nae Atwater-Boyd
10 Olivia Hardar
11 Hanna Exner
12 Jaz Baker
14 Alayna Jacobs
22 Addy Nothnagel
3 Courtney Olson
24 Teagan Beemer
32 Katlyn Patterson
34 Elle Gonzalez
52 Samantha Smith

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