The Lakota West boys’ basketball team is hoping to bounce back from its first losing season in school history with a group that head coach Sean Van Winkle describes as “young, but experienced.”
“We have a good team,” Van Winkle said. “We are not just going to depend on one single person to do the scoring or the rebounding or the passing. We have a bunch of guys that we feel are decent players and hopefully can carry the load.”
Van Winkle does return 6-foot-4 junior Monty Boykins, who led Lakota West in scoring last season with 12.5 points per game.
“As a team, I believe we are a lot further along than we were last year,” said Boykins, who has collegiate offers from Miami, Toledo, James Madison, Eastern Michigan and Kennesaw State. “We are playing really hard on defense. We are getting better at playing team defense and offense.
“I just want to end the season on a win. I honestly feel that we can make a deep run in the playoffs.”
Besides Boykins, Lakota West returns starting guards junior Ali Barnes and sophomore Tyler Williams, as well as starting forward senior Jackson Blue.
Williams, who like Boykins has earned the attention of the college scouts, averaged 7.1 points per game last season.
“Tyler is very confident this year,” Van Winkle said. “He is one of the best overall guards in the city at his age. He can do a lot of things with the ball and play great defense … we are looking for him to have a really good year.”
Backing up Barnes, who averaged 8.4 points per game, and Williams will be newcomer sophomore Malik Grove.
Grove, who has impressed his coach and his new teammates on the basketball court, actually quit the bowling team this winter after being named the Greater Miami Conference Athlete of Year and rolling a perfect game in the sport as a freshman.
“Malik Grove has been a real surprise. Quite honestly, he is just a heady player,” Van Winkle said.
“He just knows how to play, he understands the game and he is just deceivingly good.”
Other newcomers who are expected to make an impact this season include 6-foot-7 sophomore Tyler Bowling and 210-pound senior Cole Stalker, who sat out last season after transferring from Ross.
“Our team just has a lot of heart this year,” Boykins said. “We play so hard every possession and that is going to take us a long way especially when we have guys coming off the bench who can contribute.”
Lakota West will tip off its season at home against Oak Hills at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6.