As a rule, high school basketball coaches don’t exactly light a celebratory cigar when they enter the season with an inexperienced roster.
Lawrence coach Mike Lewis, with just one player — senior shooting guard Jake Mosiman — back from last season’s varsity rotation, could attest to that.
Yet, as the Lions (1-0) head to Stilwell for the Blue Valley Shootout, Lewis and his players don’t care if they get overlooked.
“We’re a little bit below the radar,” Lewis said, “just because we’ve got names on our roster that nobody’s seen.”
That includes 80 percent of Lawrence’s starting five: senior forward Sterling Fuller, senior guard Austin Abbott, sophomore guard Anthony Bonner and freshman guard Justin Roberts. The Lions’ top four bench players — senior forward Derrick Williams, junior forward Jacob Seratte, senior guard Drake Hofer and junior guard Connor Henrichs — all are varsity newbies, too.
“We might walk in and look outmanned or look small,” Lewis said, “and then sneak up on somebody.”
Mosiman, who scored a team high 22 points in Lawrence’s 62-60 road victory Friday at Junction City, said the Lions certainly don’t mind being undervalued by those outside of their locker room.
“That’s good for us,” Mosiman said. “It just adds fuel to the fire.”
LHS opens the three-day tournament — 3:15 tipoff this afternoon at Blue Valley — facing its antithesis, a senior-heavy Lee’s Summit North (Mo.) team with no sophomores or freshmen on its roster. Lewis said the Broncos will provide a significant step up in level of play and experience compared to Lawrence’s season opener. The coach saw some good signs from his team at Junction City, namely smart play and mental toughness, but he thinks the next three days will be a true test.
“We’ll really find out what we’re all about,” Lewis said. “… You’ve gotta ride the ups and downs and really dig in and play good basketball to advance to the championship game.”
Lee’s Summit North could prove to be the best team at the tournament, Lewis said. Whoever wins between the Broncos and Lions will face either Olathe North or Topeka Highland Park (No. 2 in Class 4A) in a Friday night semifinal.
In other first-round games, Blue Valley faces Olathe Northwest, and Kansas City (Kan.) Sumner Academy (No. 5 in 4A) takes on Ralston (Neb.).