Lake Forest boys winning while they grow

FELTON — There’s only about a month left on most teams’ basketball schedules now.

For some of them, the end of the season is starting to look pretty good.

At Lake Forest High, on the other hand, boys’ coach Mike Starkey feels like the Spartans are still anxious to get better.

“We left practice today really encouraged,” Starkey said on Monday. “We felt like we may have had our best practice of the year.”

Part of the reason for that energy is Lake Forest is young. There are only three seniors on the roster.

But the Spartans are also winning while they’re learning. They take a 9-2 record (8-1 in the Henlopen South) into today’s 5:45 division game at Delmar (4-3 South, 7-3 overall).

And Starkey likes that Lake is finally near full strength after having a couple players dealing with injuries earlier in the season.

“I’m just thrilled to finally be kind of settling into the rotation that we thought we were going to be to start the year off,” he said. “I’m anxious to see, starting this week, what that looks like. Usually, when you’re 9-2, you don’t want to go changing too much.

“Nine and two looks good but it hasn’t been an easy 9-2,” Starkey added. “I think we’re learned a lot and grown a lot. We’re still plugging away, so that’s a good sign.”

With nine victories and nine games left on the schedule, the Spartans are well on their way to earning the program’s third-straight DIAA state tournament berth. That would be no small feat considering they missed the tourney for five years in a row before their current stretch.

For that matter, Lake Forest is also in the thick of the Henlopen South title race. At 8-1 in the division, the Spartans are tied with Milford for first place.

But the Buccaneers dumped Lake, 65-46, in their first meeting on Jan. 3. The two squads meet again on Feb. 7 in Felton.

“A loss is never what you want but it’s usually what you need,” said Starkey. “It just kind of knocks you down a notch and helps you get refocused.

“The Milford game hurt them quite a bit being a rivalry game. That one set them back a little bit. But I think it’s helped to focus and get to where we need to be right now.”

The Spartans’ second loss came two days after the first when they fell to a good Caravel squad, 64-46. It was a rematch of last year’s state tournament when Lake Forest lost to the Bucs just 61-59.

Kaheim Kimbrough-Roach, just a sophomore, and junior Jaysem Vazquez have emerged as the Spartans’ top two scorers. Both average in double digits in points with Kimbrough-Roach also averaging in double figures in rebounds.

Senior Jene Sample has also been a consistent scorer at close to 10 points per game.

For Henlopen South teams, getting a high seed in the state tournament is usually difficult because of their strength of schedule. Of Lake Forest’s three state tourney games over the last two seasons, two have been on the road.

“Now we’re to a point where we can get a little greedier with it,” said Starkey. “Not only do we want to make the state tournament, now we want to host in the first round.”

Starkey said he talks to his players about how much each game is worth in state tournament points.

“We’ve come a long way in terms of them understanding,” he said. “We talk in terms of this being a two-point game, a three-point game or a four-point game. You’ve got to be at your best every night because even in those two-point games, if you slip up on one those nights, you end up with zero.”

Free throws

• When Dover hosts Caesar Rodney today at 7 p.m. in their Henlopen North showdown, the Senators will be trying to sweep its two regular-season meetings with the Riders for the first time since the 2015-16 season. Dover won this year’s first matchup, 71-51, on Dec. 7.

• A CR win tonight would lead the Riders and Senators tied for the North lead at 8-1. A Dover win would give the Senators a two-game lead in the North with three division games remaining.

• After a rough start, in which they lost nine of their first 10 games, Milford’s girls take a three-game winning streak into a Henlopen South matchup tonight at Sussex Academy.

• The unbeaten Woodbridge girls (11-0), who host Indian River tonight, have won 24 straight Henlopen South games.

• Henlopen North front-runner Cape Henlopen (10-1) hosts St. Elizabeth on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in an interesting girls’ non-conference showdown.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.
Facebook Comment