Lion Hoops tip off on Saturday
By LPR Staff
Lion and Lady Lion hoops kick off this weekend with a series of scrimmages in the Lion’s Den.
Buoyed by a successful off-season in which the Runnin’ Lions faced a series of tough district and non-district opponents, Boys’ Basketball Head Coach James Halatin is cautiously optimistic about the coming season
“It’s a different energy during practice and in the gym now,” he said. “Instead of [coaches] getting the guys fired up, they’re doing that for us.”
In fact, Halatin said, the energy in the locker room is such that the Lions are ready to be a force to be reckoned with on the court.
“We aren’t going to jump out there and say we think we can win district, because we have some obstacles there,” he said. “But we have games where the guys are already going in expecting to win – and others where they expect to at least perform.”
With three returning starters, and eight strong players returning this year, including All-District choices, junior Clay Buehring and senior Jacob Roland, Halatin said the Lion bench is deeper than it has been in several years, and he is encouraged by the growth of the program.
Staffing a bench that includes only juniors and seniors, Halatin said his program is focusing on growth. While he acknowledges there are talented players on the sub-varsity level, he said he prefers to leave those players on the JV team to strengthen that program, and make sure that the Lion varsity bench is not “one-and-done.”
In addition to Buehring and Roland 2012 All-District choice Tyrell Williams has recovered from injuries that took him out of the game last season, and will be returning to the court on Saturday.
“He’s healthy, and he’s been in the gym working out and shooting during his free periods,” Halatin said. “We’re expecting a lot out of him this year.”
Senior center Seth Wright, at 6’7” has also developed his game during the off season, Halatin said, and is ready to play “like a big center should.”
The Lady Lions, too, look to have a big season ahead, with eight starters returning to the bench and a focus on rebuilding the program.
“We are focused on mastering the fundamentals of the game and having a good time doing it,” Head Coach Brittany Wilson said. “We are not concerned with the wins and losses on the court, but more concerned with winning at life.”
On her bench, Wilson has returning starters Brianna Sneed, Deja Wilson, Cynthia Chavez, Deanna Quintanilla and Cristal Trejo.
Though neither the Lions nor the Lady Lions picked up a District win last year, the new placement in –District 27-5A looks to be a boost for the teams, and that boost has added an air of confidence in the locker room, suggesting the basketball program might be rounding the corner.
“Coach Wilson and I are working together on a lot of things, including building the program as a whole program, with the guys and the girls supporting each other and working as one unit,” Halatin said. “We have plans to grow them as a family, and we can tell that’s making a difference with all the kids.”
The Lady Lions will start the season on Saturday morning with scrimmages against Travis, and the Lions will follow by facing down the Luling Eagles. Action in the Lion’s Den begins at 10 a.m.