One might label another with an annoying nickname. Two of them ride to school together every morning. All three go to Kwik Shop after practice for drinks and/or grub.
The way they joke around and spend so much time together away from the court, Lawrence High basketball players Anthony Bonner, Jake Mosiman and Justin Roberts act like they have been playing together for years.
That simply isn’t the case. The Lions’ compatriots — buddies off the court and stone-cold scorers on it — didn’t become teammates until this season, yet they’ve led Lawrence to a 12-8 record and No. 7 ranking in Class 6A.
Bonner and Roberts go way back, to when they played basketball together and hung out as youngsters, before Roberts moved away. When the Roberts family came back to town this past summer, leading up to Justin’s freshman year, they moved in across the street from where Mosiman lives — “like two steps away,” as Mosiman put it.
Between an established friendship, some new neighbors and the fact Mosiman and other LHS upperclassmen took Bonner with them everywhere they went last year, things just clicked when the three guards joined forces last summer for workouts and summer hoops. Even LHS coach Mike Lewis noticed the immediate chemistry and camaraderie.
“From then on it was a pretty tight-knit group,” Lewis said, “that just had a good feel for each other.”
A 6-foot senior, Mosiman averages 13 points, five rebounds and has hit 53 three-pointers. A 6-1 sophomore, Bonner puts up 11 points, four rebounds and two steals. Roberts, a 5-9 freshman point guard, contributes 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
As the season has progressed, each guard has gained a growing respect for the ability of his other two running-mates. Opponents often have trouble game-planning for Lawrence’s five-guard lineup (seniors Drake Hofer and Austin Abbott most often start for the Lions), led by its at-times-ungaurdable triumvirate.
“Any night,” Bonner said, “someone can come out and get 10 to 15 points. We’re all really unselfish and love each other and play really well together.”
Mosiman said Roberts’ and Bonner’s speed and driving ability set everything else up.
“It’s an easy job for me to just stand behind the three-point line and wait for the kick-out,” Mosiman said.
Plus, the entire team has taken on the unique scrappiness shared by the two speed demons.
“They just need to get to the ball,” Mosiman said. “They have to have it. Their will for it is crazy.”
Roberts said Lawrence wouldn’t be where it is without Bonner’s relentless drives to the paint and Mosiman’s always-ready-to-fire approach.
“Jake’s probably the best shooter I’ve ever played with in my life,” Roberts said. “He can just knock down shots, regardless if someone’s guarding him or not.”
Of course, the Lions wouldn’t be enjoying this success if their top three players thought they were the only ones who mattered. Lewis said the lead three get that, which doesn’t always happen at the high school level.
“Yeah, those three are our top scorers, and from a statistical standpoint they stand out,” Lewis said, “but they also are three guys who really know how to get their teammates involved. Even if it’s only a four-point night for somebody, those four points have been real valuable to us.”
The complimentary players, Abbott added, realize that as well.
“Every little thing does help. If I go zero points with five rebounds and a tip-out and we win, that’d be great,” Abbott said. “Every stat matters.”
Roberts said Lawrence’s season turned for the better following back-to-back losses in January.
“I think we realized we can win more games,” Roberts said, “if we just play together.”
The Lions will begin the postseason Wednesday at home, with a 7 p.m. sub-state opener against Blue Valley West (11-9).