Despite Large Graduating Class, River Rat Basketball Team Sets Sights High For Coming Season


Coach Samah directs his players from the coaching box. In 2010, he led the Huron team to a second place state finish, narrowly losing to Kalamazoo Central 74-65 in the championship match. (Photo courtesy of @HURONBBALL taken from Twitter.)

After graduating nearly all starters from the 2014-15 season, the Huron basketball team has a big season ahead with many questions to answer.

“We graduated six seniors; 90% of our offense graduated, 90% of our rebounding, 90% of our experience, really,” said Waleed Samaha, the longtime head coach of the River Rats varsity squad, who is now entering his fourteenth season.

Last year’s team, which went undefeated in conference play and achieved an elite 20-3 record overall, eventually lost to Lansing Everett in the class A regional semifinal.

The starting lineup housed only seniors, including team leader Xavier Cochran, a 6’5” shooting guard who received numerous D1 basketball offers during his time in Samaha’s system.

Though this experience and quality has moved on, Samaha has little doubt in the capabilities of his young and talented squad. “We don’t have rebuilding years. We’re reloading every year,” Samaha said. “We have one standard and that’s excellence. That’s how we train and then it’s everybody’s job to get to that level, so you’re not going to hear us talk about, ‘Oh we’re a young team.’ We don’t do that.”

The filling of lost positions appears to be seamless, as a number of skilled and returning players are preparing themselves to live up to Samaha’s expectations.

Players like Lawrence Rowley, Devaughn Munson and Jack Smith will be asked to step up in the coming season given their impressive abilities, which were showcased last year.

The team is already in full swing; skill and shooting workouts as well as conditioning drills have been in effect every weekday since the start of the school year. Samaha is pleased with what he’s seen in these practices so far.

Although the season’s opener against Belleville is a lengthy three months away, it is hard for the Huron faithful to hold back their excitement for what appears to be a promising 2015-16 campaign.