In Lawrence High girls basketball coach Nick Wood’s first year as varsity coach last season, he found himself worrying about things outside of basketball. Bus schedules and other paperwork loomed in the back of his mind.
Boys basketball coach Mike Lewis, also in his first season last year, didn’t even know how to do any of that to start the year.
But now, with their teams’ first games against Washburn Rural looming on Friday at LHS, they’re starting to feel more comfortable off the court. The coaches’ improved focus on basketball should help their young, relatively inexperienced teams improve on the court.
“It’s definitely slowed down for me,” Wood said. “I feel more comfortable where I’m at today than I was last year.”
Both teams struggled last season. The boys finished 4-17 and the girls finished 8-13. Neither team advanced past the first round of substate. Their situations this year are relatively similar again.
The main question: Who will score?
Marcus Ray, last year’s go-to guy in late-game situations for the boys team, graduated, leaving behind several young players. Lewis promises his offense will be balanced, but the lead guy has yet to be determined.
“It could come from a senior, a junior or a sophomore this year. It really could,” Lewis said.
Wood lost 86 percent of his scoring from last season and will look to use senior Tamiya Green’s athletic ability to take advantage of matchups.
“She’s got to be able to fly up and down the court, and we’ve got to be able to get her the ball when she’s open and go to work,” Wood said.
Senior Emily Peterson said that she expects her team to improve significantly as the season progresses.
“I take it game by game,” Peterson said. “As long as we work hard and we do the little things, even if it’s close or even a loss, if we do the little things, it’s still a win for me.”
The wrestling team has a more solid grasps on how its season will turn out. Junior Reece Wright-Conklin will look to defend a state title, moving up to 171 pounds. Sophomore Hunter Haralson will try to eke out a championship after placing second at 112 pounds last season.
The team’s depth will help the Lions improve their team placing the most. Freshmen Garret Girard, Ryan Belinger and Austin Magdelena should have an immediate impact.
“They’re young, but they got a lot of fight in them,” LHS coach Pat Naughton said.
Junior Zach Andregg will lead the boys swimming team. He swam the 500 freestyle and 200 individual medley at state last year and has improved his freestyle sprint speed over the summer.
The bowling team started tryouts yesterday at Royal Crest Lanes. They continue until Thursday.