Lake boys’ basketball team learning how to win

GEORGETOWN – The number one obstacle facing Mike Starkey when he took over as the new head coach of the Lake Forest boys’ basketball team this season was teaching a team that had suffered through several losing season how to win.

Lake Forest does have talented players, which helps but is not all that’s needed.

Junior Cam Lewis scores a pair of points in last week's win over Delmarva Christian. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Junior Cam Lewis scores a pair of points in last week’s win over Delmarva Christian. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

“Right now, we are still a program without a true point guard, which a team needs if it’s going to be successful,” said Starkey. “We are going to put all our focus on the young talent that we already have to develop a point guard that can run our offense.”

Starkey is currently focusing on sophomore Isaiah Morris to learn and become the Spartans point guard for the next two seasons.

“Isaiah is one of those smart kids that you know can work his way into being a very good point guard,” Starkey said. “He is very athletic and coachable, which is type of player you need to run your offense.

“Not only is he a good player, he is also a good student as well as a good person. I know if he continues to work to improve he is what we are looking for.”

Morris has confidence in his ability and feels he will continue to learn what is needed to become a good point guard.

“I feel things are going pretty well right now,” he said. “We are starting to come together as a team and everyone is working hard to get better.

“I feel we are adjusting to the way coach Starkey coaches and we are learning that what he wants us to do is working. We are quickly finding out that, if we give it our all, good things are going to happen.”

Heading into the second half of his first season as the head coach, Starkey, while he likes how the players are becoming comfortable with his way of coaching, knows there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

“I have players that have had years of bad habits that haven’t been addressed until now,” he said. “Right now, it’s not a physical thing but more of a mental issue because they have been conditioned to think they are supposed to lose.

“So, every day we are teaching them how to compete and making them realize they will be held accountable. I have seen improvement; however, we still don’t compete consistently at a high level throughout a game.”

An example of the Spartans not playing consistent for an entire game was last week’s 51-38 win over Delmarva Christian High School.

Lake Forest jumped out to an 11-2 lead and looked to be well on the way toward an easy win.

The Royals, however, outscored the Spartans 19-9 from that point on to take a 21-20 lead at halftime.

“I don’t feel it was as much as what [Delmarva Christian] did, it’s what we allowed them to do by not remaining focused,” said Starkey. “I have seen what happened here in this game before, which is seeing your players take a team for granted and not playing as well as they should.

Isaiah Daniels drives to the basket to score two points during last week’s 51-38 win over Delmarva Christian. New head coach Mike Starkey is grooming the talented sophomore to be his point guard for the next two seasons. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Isaiah Daniels drives to the basket to score two points during last week’s 51-38 win over Delmarva Christian. New head coach Mike Starkey is grooming the talented sophomore to be his point guard for the next two seasons. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

“I feel this group takes more to wake up than some of the other groups I have coached in the past. But, they responded and I’m proud of how they played in the second half.”

The Spartans did respond right from the start of the second half and quickly took the lead for good, 23-21, on a three-point basket by Morris.

Led by Cameron Lewis, who scored a game-high 14 points, and Dominique Griffith, who chipped in with 13 points, Lake Forest continued to build its lead throughout the second half.

Heading into Tuesday’s game at Laurel (results were not available at press time) Lake Forest’s record was 5-6 and, with nine games remaining in the regular season the Spartans can accomplish something they haven’t done in several seasons – finish above 500.

“Personally what I want to see closing out the season is how many players I can get to buy into my system,” said Starkey. “I want them to do this with their attitude and effort, which are the two things the players can control. Once we do this consistently we can coach more basketball.

“In order to be good consistently we need to have guys that are mentally tough and not have their play dictated by their opponent, the scoreboard or some other outside influences.

“This year, the results are what they are. What we are trying to accomplish the most this season is to lay the foundation that the effort and mental toughness has to be there in order to have a successful program.”

The Spartans will return home to host Seaford Friday and Col. Richardson (Md.) Monday.

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