Lincoln High boys basketball profile: young
If there’s one phrase that would sum up the Lincoln High School boys basketball program over the past two seasons it would be – forever young. Not since the 2009-10 season have the Fighting Zebras carried more than four seniors on the squad.
This year will be no different as nine juniors will round out the squad. There are five returning players from last season and two are juniors.
“A couple of kids moved away; a couple kids decided not to play,” said Robert Ash, who will begin his first full season as varsity head coach. “So we are really, really young; a lot of juniors, not a whole lot of experience. So we are making some rookie mistakes but we’re getting there.”
What might be considered an improvement in that situation is there are no sophomores on this year’s club. But the Zebras did lose some key players from last year.
Travis Miskell, Kyle Kramer, Kyle Lowe and Trenton Keeler were lost to graduation. Miskell averaged more than 10 points a game and Lowe nearly eight. However, perhaps the biggest loss was that of sophomore Ethan Everett who led the team in scoring and rebounding.
What Ash will have to work with this season is team quickness. He said the club is guard heavy and not as big as last year.
“With a different group of guys we’re going to try and spread the floor a lot more this year,” Ash said, “and pick and choose when we run instead of running all the time.”
What concerns Ash the most in the early going is his club’s weakness on defense. Because of the Zebras lack of size, he said it would be necessary to double-team the post. That means having to rotate out of that situation and that’s what he’s been working on since practice began earlier this month.
Ash said his club will really have to work hard when it comes to defensive rebounds.
Coach Ash said junior Logan Staynor was the team’s only true center. At 6-foot, 5-inches and 225 pounds, Staynor was a solid performer for the junior varsity squad last year. He averaged more than seven points a game and almost five rebounds per contest.
Ash said he would also be relying heavily on seniors James Pallas and Alexis Gonzales. He also hopes for good seasons from last year’s varsity sophomores Adam Felt and Marcus Salgado.
“(Salgado) was our starting point guard last year. He was honorable mention (All League) last year,” Ash said. “We need him to have a good year.”
To prepare for the Pioneer Valley League, Ash has scheduled some tough preseason opponents. The Zebras will open at home against Rocklin Nov. 27 and then travel to Wheatland for the Pirates invitational tournament.
Ash has also scheduled the club to play in the Del Oro Invitational Tournament, which always features some very strong teams. Ash said there is no opponent on Lincoln’s preseason schedule that won’t match up to the talent the Zebras have.
As for the PVL, the head coach does not see a league opponent that would be an automatic win. Even Colfax, a team that won only one game in league last year, will be returning their entire varsity squad from a year ago.
“We could very easily be 10-0 and very easily be 0-10,” Ash said of the PVL campaign. “Every single team can beat us and we can beat every single team. There’s no gimme on that schedule and it’s quite nerve wracking.”
Youth does bring a lot of energy to the club, but inexperience at the varsity level has its drawbacks. It could be a matter of how rapidly his players develop in the preseason against some very strong competition. Such games will also test the emotions and maturity of the youthful Zebras as they work to get ready for league.
The Rocklin opener is scheduled for 7 p.m., Nov. 27 in the Zebras’ house.
Lincoln High School
Boys Basketball 2012-13
2011-12 SEASON STATISTICS
Pioneer Valley League – Fourth place, 4-6 record
Overall Record – 13-14
Points Per Game – 57.6
Opponents PPG – 56.9
Alexis Gonzales – senior forward
James Pallas – senior forward
Daniel Medina – senior guard
Marcus Salgado – junior guard
Adam Felt – junior forward