Lake Forest making strides in boys’ basketball

Lake Forest boys' basketball coach Mike Starkey by .

Formerly the successful coach at Smyrna, Mike Starkey – shown above while coaching the Eagles – said he has to remind himself sometimes that even small accomplishments can mean a lot for this group of Lake Forest players. (Delaware State News file photo)

Right now, the Lake Forest High boys’ basketball program is a little bit like the little engine that could.

Before the Spartans can start winning consistently, they have to think they can.

“I think they’ve just been so accustomed to losing,” said first-year coach Mike Starkey. “Regardless of who we’re playing, it seems like the biggest opponent is just overcoming our own mentality of thinking that we’re supposed to lose.”

But, while progress is coming a little at a time, Starkey said there’s no question that Lake Forest is heading in the right direction.

The Spartans extended their winning streak to four with Monday’s 67-56 nonconference victory over Colonel Richardson. That streak got them to 7-6 overall.
And while that might not sound like much, the seven victories are the most Lake Forest has had in a season since 2012.

The Spartans have gone just 12-48 over the last three seasons.

Formerly the successful coach at Smyrna, Starkey said he has to remind himself sometimes that even small accomplishments can mean a lot for this group of players.

“Where we’re at right now, for these guys, is a pretty big deal,” he said. “It’s been a long time since they’ve been at that .500 mark. I don’t think they know how to think much beyond that yet.

“I asked them yesterday at practice to raise their hand if they’d played in the state tournament. There’s not a single kid in the program that could raise their hand yet.”

Lake Forest hasn’t been to the state tourney since 2011, when it finished 10-11. It hasn’t finished with a winning record since before 2009.

Between varsity and JV, the Spartans have only 18 players in the program right. But they also have just three seniors — Dominique Griffith, Amir White and Laron Williams.

With four juniors and four sophomores on varsity, Starkey hopes Lake Forest can build on whatever it accomplishes this winter.

Starkey’s assistant coaches include former Caesar Rodney High player Reggie Millner, former William Penn High standout Steve Smith, Henry Simpson and Ridge Betts. For right now, Starkey says they’re just trying to put down a foundation.

“There’s no way to teach experience,” he said. “You’ve just got to get some young guys out there and let them grow. Every day, every week we’re seeing those guys grow by leaps and bounds.

“I’m optimistic and excited about the direction in which we’re headed here.”

Big games for Dover

Dover faces a crucial two-game stretch as it tries to lock down the Henlopen Conference Northern Division title.

The Senators host Smyrna on Saturday at noon before travelling to Cape Henlopen on Tuesday, Feb. 9 for a 7:15 p.m. showdown with the Vikings.

Dover (7-0 North, 10-3 overall) is in first place in the division with Cape (6-1, 8-6) in second and the Eagles (5-2, 9-2) in third. The Senators won the first meeting with both squads.

Since 1993, Dover has won the boys’ North crown just once — in 2010.

Free throws

•Woodbridge’s 49-36 win over Milford on Friday left the Raiders and Buccaneers tied for the Henlopen South lead in girls’ basketball.

Both teams are 7-1 in the division and have split their two meetings. If they ended up tied, a special playoff game would decide the South title.

•On the other hand, the Milford boys took control of the South with 46-41 win over Woodbridge on Friday. The Bucs are now 8-0 in the division with two wins over the second-place Raiders (6-2).

•Dover’s girls (7-5), who have won three of their last four games, face a pair of difficult nonconference games this week. The Senators play at William Penn today and at Sanford on Thursday.

•St. Thomas More’s boys are currently 11-3. That’s more victories than the 10 wins that the Ravens had in the four seasons between 2010-2014 combined.

St. Thomas More plays at St. Andrews on Friday night.

•Likewise, the St. Thomas More girls’ team is 11-1. That’s already the most wins for the Ravens since 2012.

St. Thomas More plays its next three games at home before going on the road for its final four regular-season contests.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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