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Leslie boys basketball hoping to end 53-year regional title drought

The Blackhawks haven’t won this title since 1968
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 6:17 PM EDT
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LESLIE, Mich. (WILX) - Boys high school basketball is getting close to being done and regional titles are on the line. Leslie High School is fighting for a regional win, but that hasn’t been in sight for the Blackhawks since 1968. The team hopes to change that and bring home some history.

“They’ve played a lot of big games together. They’ve won, they’ve lost,” Leslie head coach Matt Johns said. “I mean we were 10-10 as sophomores so I think they’ve been through a lot of it. I think they care about each other and honestly they play for each other.”

It’s a tightknit team and its only gotten better, even with a COVID-19 season.

“These are my guys,” senior captain Nolan Frohriep said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I grew up with almost all of them.”

And playing on the same teams since elementary school.

“We’ve been together since first grade when we started practicing up in Jackson and stuff like that,” senior captain Ayden Rutan said. “It’s great. We’re a brotherhood.”

This close group consists of seven seniors knowing each other for years, but they’ve always been seen as the underdogs.

“A lot of people count us out because we’re not big and maybe we’re not beefy but we work our butts off every single day,” Frohriep said.

The goal every year is to get to regionals and now its coming to fruition. At 16-1 on the season and 53 years without that title, it pushes this Leslie team even more.

“It’d mean the world. I mean, we always dreamed about that since we were little kids,” Rutan said. “The 50 year drought... it’d be huge for the community as well.”

To Frohriep it means a little more. His grandfather Richard Frohriep was the coach at Leslie during the 1968 regional title run.

“It’s very important to me. I was never able to meet him and I was never really able to hear what his life was like and his legacy was like,” Frohriep said about his grandfather. “I still hear from people all around the area of how Richard Frohriep was such a great leader and a great coach and just a great guy.”

The entire Leslie community is cheering them on -- past, present, and future -- and it means so much.

Leslie travels to Springport Thursday, April 1, to face Hanover-Horton for the regional title. The winner will move on to the state quarterfinals this Tuesday, April 6.

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