After making tourney, Spartans want more


Lake Forest head basketball coach Mike Starkey.
(Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

FELTON — Mike Starkey’s biggest problem isn’t really a problem at all.

But the Lake Forest High boys’ basketball coach says it’s not easy getting everybody enough playing time when you have a lot of depth.

“We can easily go nine or 10 deep,” said Starkey. “The tricky part is — like I keep telling these guys every day — nobody is going to get to play as much as they want to play. Nobody’s going to score as much as they want to score.”

In the end, though, the Spartans hope that also means they get to win more than they have in a while.

After earning a spot in the DIAA state tournament last winter for the first time in five seasons, Lake Forest is trying to make sure the tourney is a regular thing for the program again.

So far, the Spartans are 2-0 going into tonight’s 6:15 p.m. home game against Henlopen Conference Southern Division rival Indian River.

Starkey said Lake Forest’s depth is just one thing he likes about this year’s squad.

“The culture has definitely changed,” said Starkey, who is in his third season at Lake Forest. “The first couple years it was a lot of me just talking. No one was echoing those same words.

“Now it feels like I have a bunch of leaders in this group saying the same thing that I’ve been saying for two years. This group says it and really buys in and believes it. The culture is completely different this year. And I think that’s noticeable on the court, too. There’s good energy and good leadership out there.”

Lake Forest’s Isaiah Morris, left, was a first-team All-Henlopen South selection on the
Spartans’ 12-9 squad a year ago. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Senior guard Isaiah Morris was a first-team All-Henlopen South selection on the Spartans’ 12-9 squad a year ago.

“It was exciting,” he said about last season. “We didn’t exceed as many goals as we thought but we’re working on that this year. People have been counting us out my whole high school career. It feels good to actually get the chance to prove them wrong.”

Jaysem Vazquez started last season at point guard despite being only a freshman. He ended up as an honorable mention All-South pick.

“It was good but we weren’t satisfied,” Vazquez said about making the state tournament. “We lost in the first round to William Penn. We wanted more than that. We weren’t ready to play.”

Morris and Vazquez are part of a five-player group of returnees for Lake Forest. Also back are seniors Kobe Mumford, Ahmanuel White and Desaun Bizzell.

To that nucleus the Spartans have added three key transfers: Johnny Forrest from Polytech, Jene Sample from Baltimore and former Dover player Thomas Hoskins.

Hoskins, a senior, was a starter for the Senators as a freshman but hasn’t played high school basketball the last two seasons.

“He’s exceeded every expectation,” said Starkey. “He shows up with a smile, outworks everybody for two hours and leaves with a smile. He’s extremely competitive every day in practice and it’s raised our whole group’s level of competition.

“The kids love him, the coaches love him, the teachers love him. He’s a joy to be around. I think he’s just happy to be here playing basketball.”

Thomas Hoskins transferred from Dover to Lake Forest. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Hoskins netted 19 points in Lake Forest’s season-opening win over Sussex Academy.

“He makes us all better,” said Morris. “If anybody’s motivated, it’s definitely him. He told us he’s just so happy to be back on the court. We’re all gathered around him, supporting him.”

For Forrest, the transition back to Lake Forest was pretty seamless. He knew most of the players already from having grown up in the school district.

Forrest is one of six seniors on the Spartans’ 12-player roster.

“We really believe we can accomplish something big this year,” he said. “The preseason Top 10s and all that, we thought we should have been in there. We’ve got to get a big win and then everybody will start finally respecting us.

“(But) we love being the underdog. We’re just working hard every day. We embrace that mentality.”

“I just think we have all the tools to be a good team,” said Morris. “We’ve got rebounders, we’ve got defense, we’ve got toughness — we’ve got everything. I just think we’re all making each other better.”

Lake Forest’s biggest obstacle so far has been its schedule. With a couple contests moved until later in the season, the Spartans have played just two games in the first three weeks.

So they’re excited for this week. They play IR today before going to Red Lion Christian on Thursday.

“That just gave us more time to get better, to fix a couple things up,” said Vazquez. “We’re ready to go.”

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