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Lake View High School

Young girls team showing great energy early on

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Lake View – It’s not uncommon for a small school such as Lake View to have young, middle-school aged players competing on the varsity level.

With low numbers coming out for basketball in some years, Lake View girls coach Larry Inman does not often have the advantage of leaving talented young players down on the junior varsity team to grow and mature at a slower pace. Inman often has to “throw them into the fire” early in their careers. And, the coach has had success with that plan as many of the young players end up having strong careers on the hardwood.

Last season, Inman had a pair of eighth-graders on the varsity and both players averaged in double figures. Now, as freshmen, Ja’Niyah Waters and Zan’Dasia McNeil, have a year of experience under their belts and are productive players once again. Waters, who averaged 12.1 points per game last season, is scoring about 10.7 points per game this winter. McNeil averaged 10.7 points last season and currently is scoring about nine points per game with a team-high 35 steals.

“We’re young but we always seem to be young, even though we usually have good talent,” Inman said. “We have good talent on this team. It’s just a matter of getting them to gel as a team. We only have one senior so we count a lot on underclassmen to be the leaders. We always seem to get better as we go through the season.”

Lake View won three of their first 11 games against a tough non-region schedule but opened region play with a win over Green Sea-Floyds.

The team’s lone senior is 4-11 guard Jania Ford. Inman says despite her size, she carries a big voice. Ford averages about 4.5 points per game.

“She’s a good leader and the younger players follow her,” the coach said. “She’s played a lot for us over the years. She has a voice and she has their ear when she needs to step up.”

A pair of seventh-graders are making a big impact this season. Gwendasia Page is averaging seven points and 4.5 rebounds per game while Jaleya Ford adds about four points and four boards per game.

Junior Milashia Wheeler is a starting guard and averages about seven points per game. Juniors Kasi Page and Zaiona Henburgh also see action, along with sophomore Samoria Nesmith. Freshman Cornelia Mace is seeing time at forward as well.

Inman says the emphasis in the early stages of the season was on defense. The team is just getting into the offensive game plan, which has been a little slow in developing.

“We focused on what we wanted to do defensively up until the Christmas break,” the coach said. “The plan was to spend the break on the offensive end but we didn’t have them all here because of family commitments. So, we’re behind offensively and we’re trying to catch up. I think we can catch up but we have a lot of work to do.”

Having experienced youthful teams before, Inman says the key is to feed off the youthful energy while also teaching the younger players that failure will happen. How they handle the failure will determine their ultimate fate in the game.

“You have to keep getting back up when they knock you down,” Inman said. “We know we will get knocked down. You have to keep getting up and working hard to get better. This team has a lot of energy and I think we can be pretty competitive. We’re in region play now and these are the games that matter. I think we’re coming together so I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Inman sees plenty of potential this season but can’t help but smile when thinking about the future. Nine of the 10 players on this team should return next season with at least six players slated to be around for at least three more years.

“The potential is going to be there and if this group sticks with it and improves, we’re going to be pretty good over the next few years,” Inman predicted. “You never know what may happen but we have some good young talent. We have to keep them coming and I think we can be a team that contends for the region championship.”

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