DANSVILLE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Ewen-Trout Creek Panthers have made it below the bridge and stopped by Dansville High School to get in a quick shoot around before the Panthers matchup on Thursday against St. Mary School – Lake Leelanau.

“We are living it up,” Brad Besonen, Head Coach of Ewen Trout Creek boys basketball said. “Lots of smiles and lots of buzz about them even though we’ve got some jet lag. It has been nice to get them in the gym and get a little bit of sweat going and break that stuff up that has been in there from last night’s game. This team is just higher than a kite right now.”

North Central standout and current Michigan State Spartan, Jason Whitens stopped by the practice and gave his best advice to the team about what it takes to win a title. After all, he is a three-time state champion.

“I was just talking about living in the moment and enjoying it,” Jason Whitens, North Central Basketball Alumni and current Michigan State Spartan said. “You don’t get many opportunities to be here and just going out and having fun. It is a special thing to be from the U.P. and playing games like tomorrow and hopefully Saturday for them. Throughout my experience and playing in games like this, it’s all about just being with the guys around you. I asked them ‘Hey, what are you most excited about?’ and they all said just being around each other and hopefully winning but really just being around each other. I want them to take that into the game with them tomorrow and just have fun with it.”

After beating a tough Rudyard team on Tuesday to send E-TC to the Breslin, Head Coach Brad Besonen says he’s looking for another gritty performance when the Panthers hit the hardwood in East Lansing.

“We handled the physicality well because Rudyard definitely brought that and that is how they really were successful this season, “Besonen said. “They would grind you on the defensive end and make everything so difficult to get and I thought we handled that. They pushed us around a little bit but overall I think we handled that and we are a group of pretty tough guys as a unit so I think that helped with some of that. Along with just the tough mindset that they have been playing with.”

Ewen-Trout Creek is one of two U.P. teams competing at the Breslin on Thursday, Whitens says he is just excited to see the U.P. power in action.

“I was so excited when I saw that both Menominee and Ewen won,” Whitens said. “I am just like I am booked Thursday and Saturday hopefully for my entertainment through the weekend. Just getting to support them and the other U.P. teams, I can’t remember the last time that two U.P. teams were able to play. I think it was back in 2015 but I am just excited to come out and support them. I know they are going to do a great job. They just have to play with that chip on their shoulder, they are from the U.P. and we will see what they can do.”

Ewen-Trout Creek will take on St. Mary School – Lake Leelanau on Thursday with tip-off set for 5:30 P.M. EST.